Man Wrongly Convicted Of Murder Freed After 18 Years In Prison


After serving 18 years in jail, a man who was wrongfully convicted of murder has been released.

The case of Sheldon Thomas has brought up the subject of incorrect convictions and other problems with the US justice system once more.

The New Yorker, who is now 35, spent nearly 20 years in prison after being confused for another person with the same name in Anderson Bercy’s 2004 homicide. Thomas was one of three guys detained in connection with the homicide, which seriously injured a second adolescent.

His exoneration was announced Monday following a comprehensive inquiry by the Conviction Review Unit (CRU) of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez (March 9).

Sheldon Thomas

A copy of the CRU report, which illustrates how Thomas was detained as a result of a flawed witness identification, was made available by the district attorney’s office.

In order to use Thomas’ image in a photo lineup, the homicide case detective at the time requested that the information about a past arrest be made public.

They also pulled a picture of a different Sheldon Thomas from a police database prior to getting permission.

They misidentified the individual who was in the car during the shooting when they showed the witness the photographs.

The office stated the mistake was ‘first disguised and then explained away throughout the proceedings’, while a reinvestigation concluded that ‘detectives were bent on detaining the defendant and used the botched ID procedure as pretext’.

Sheldon Thomas

The court accepted an identification witness’ testimony despite “severe difficulties” with their credibility, it gave credence to a detective who “falsely testified,” and “defence counsel aggravated these and other errors in many ways,” according to the report.

The court in the case determined that there was probable cause to arrest Thomas based on “confirmed information from anonymous callers” and that he resembled the actual offender in the photo, despite the fact that these flaws were discovered at a preliminary hearing in June 2006.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office stated that the CRU investigation “concluded that the defendant was denied due process at every level, rendering his conviction fundamentally unfair” in light of the fact that the investigation revealed both the unfairness and the truth.

In the earlier arrest, case detective Robert Reedy was also discovered to have “repeatedly harassed” Thomas, and it was claimed that the detectives “prompted” the witnesses to identify Thomas.

Thomas is currently a free man after a court found him to be innocent based on the overwhelming evidence of unlawful practices.

In his testimony, he stated: “I would replay the discussion I would have with myself and the things I would say when I was in my cell and reflect back to this time.

“I’m currently speechless,”

Gonzalez outlined the situation before the exoneration: “In any situation, we must work to uphold fairness and integrity, and we must have the guts to fix past errors.

“We are doing that in this case because a thorough re-investigation by my Conviction Review Unit demonstrated that it was flawed from the beginning due to serious mistakes and a lack of probable cause to detain Mr Thomas.

“His conviction was fundamentally flawed since the prosecution continued even after the incorrect identity was discovered, depriving him of his rights to due process.

“Whenever we find a dubious conviction in Brooklyn, I’m committed to keep doing this important work.”

Gonzalez tweeted the following statement after learning that Thomas’ conviction had been overturned: “This vacatur is part of my continuous effort to right previous injustices in our borough.”