Three Men to be Exonerated in Scarcella Review
Nearly one year after the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit announced that it would reopen every murder conviction that was investigated by Louis Scarcella — a detective who handled some of Brooklyn’s most notorious crimes in the 1980s and 1990s — three defendants are poised to become the first people exonerated as a result of the wide sweeping review.
New York Times
reported that the Brooklyn district attorney’s office will ask a judge to vacate the murder convictions of three half brothers — Alvena Jennette, Robert Hill and Darryl Austin — whose convictions in the 1985 murder of Ronnie Durant hinged on questionable evidence produced by Scarcella.
During the investigation into Scarcella’s convictions, it was discovered that he was accused of fabricating confessions, coercing witnesses and neglecting to turn in exculpatory evidence. Last year, the Times uncovered evidence of Scarcella using a known substance abuser, Teresa Gomez, as a witness in six separate murder cases. Gomez, who is now deceased, often got crucial details wrong and contradicted other witnesses. Scarcella used her to testify against Jennette and Hill two years after Durant’s murder went unsolved.
If District Attorney Kenneth Thompson’s request is granted, Hill, who is 53 and has multiple sclerosis, will gain his freedom; Jennette was paroled in 2007 and Austin died in prison 14 years ago.
Jennette told the
earlier this week, “The last time I saw my brother was at sentencing; the next time I seen him was in a casket. This is the thing that really, really troubles me: He could not be here to share this. He was always optimistic that we would get out some day and that a wrong would be righted.”
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