Queens district attorney vacates wrongful convictions of 3 men decades later
The Queens district attorney moved to vacate three wrongful convictions on Thursday, giving justice to men who lost years of their lives behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit.
Queens D.A. Melinda Katz filed motions Thursday with defense attorneys to vacate the convictions because she said new evidence came to light proving their innocence.
They all served their time, but now it is about wiping their records clean.
Katz’s office said in the case of Earl Walters, fingerprint evidence implicated other men in the 1992 abductions and robberies of two women.
Walters served 20 years in prison and even though it took two decades, he received an apology on Thursday.
“It felt good, it felt good to hear someone say it,” Walters said.
Walters was just 17 when he was arrested for the vicious robberies and murders. During 16 hours of interrogation without a lawyer, he made statements to police implicating himself.
Three other men were eventually charged in crimes that fit the same pattern, but Walters was convicted at trial.
It was the new fingerprint evidence 20 years later that showed it wasn’t him after all.
“We urged them to do fingerprint analysis and that was ultimately what led to the exoneration in this case, but this case, as the judge said, had problem from top to bottom,” said Exoneration Initiative lawyer Glenn Garber.
Judge Michelle Johnson also vacated the convictions of Armond McCloud and Reginald Cameron in the 1994 shooting death of Kei Sunada.
A review of the case found their confessions were unreliable because they were elicited by a detective connected to two cases involving false confessions – the “Central Park Five” rape case in 1989 and the murder in 1990 of a tourist in town to attend the U.S Open tennis tournament.
“This scar on my face is not going to change, the death of the people I never got to see anymore, they can’t bring those moments back,” Cameron said. “So yeah they didn’t right a wrong, they admitted a wrong.”
Since its creation in 2020, the Conviction Integrity Unit has vacated 102 convictions.