In legal limbo, NY man awaits future


Marty Tankleff was released from a New York prison in December after serving 17 years for the murders of his parents, a crime he has always maintained he didn’t commit. Since his release, Tankleff has been adjusting to his newfound freedom – reconnecting with family and enduring the difficulties of learning to navigate all of the new technology since he went to prison – like cell phones and the Internet. He is enrolled in Hofstra University to study sociology and philosophy. He told the New York Times that he hopes to go to law school to work on wrongful conviction cases.

“I think I have the education for it — and the experience,” Mr. Tankleff said with a smile as he sat on the couch at his aunt’s home. Referring to letters from desperate prisoners seeking help with appeals, he said: “I know what those guys are like. I was one of them.”

But before he can focus on the future, he needs his case to finally be behind him. He was 17 years old when he woke up to find his mother dead and his father unconscious in the house he shared with them. His father would later die in the hospital, and Tankleff was  interrogated by detectives as a suspect. He was charged with the murders after allegedly making statements that he may have “blacked out” and committed the crimes. The “confession” was immediately recanted by Tankleff and he never signed the written version.

The charges against Tankleff are still pending, and New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has been appointed as a special prosecutor in the case. Cuomo will announce on June 16 whether charges against Tankleff will finally be dropped. But the case will never really be over, Tankleff told the New York Times.

“I just wish the case would be over,” he said, referring to it as “the gorilla on my back.”

But with his parents dead and 17 years of freedom lost, he said, the case “will always be part of me.”

Read the full story here

. (New York Times, 04/25/08)

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