One of the year’s first exonerations is also merely the latest to emerge from the mess left by former Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes and disgraced former NYPD detective Louis Scarcella. The New York Times reports:
Saying the sole eyewitness at a murder trial gave “patently false” testimony, the Brooklyn district attorney [Kenneth P. Thompson] said on Monday that he would move to clear the conviction of Derrick Hamilton, who spent about two decades in prison for a 1991 murder.
Mr. Hamilton, 49, who was paroled in 2011, had aggressively fought his conviction; he has also been a regular presence at hearings about other wrongful convictions in Brooklyn.
Mr. Hamilton was convicted of killing Nathaniel Cash in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Mr. Hamilton has maintained he was in Connecticut, and said that Louis Scarcella, a retired detective whose methods have come under question and whose murder convictions are under review by the district attorney, framed him . . .
Only one eyewitness took the stand at Mr. Hamilton’s trial: Mr. Cash’s girlfriend, Jewel Smith.
Mr. Thompson said his conviction review unit, which is looking into Mr. Scarcella’s cases and others, found major problems with her story.
Thompson is looking into at least 70 Scarcella convictions. My favorite detail about Scarcella: Not only did he coach witnesses and make up confessions, but also in a case last December, he apparently fabricated quotes from the man he falsely claimed confessed that praised Scarcella’s work as a detective.