(New York) ‘I’ve waited a long time’: A New Yorker walked free on Thursday after 18 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, intentionally and fraudulently wrongly accused by police.
The terrible misadventure of Sheldon Thomas, 35 years old today, is hardly believable.
This African-American was convicted of the 2004 murder of another 14-year-old teenager in Brooklyn.
The real perpetrator of the murder is still at large.
In a New York court hearing attended by ABC television, Thomas said he forgives investigators, a prosecution witness, prosecutors and thanks the judge who exonerated him .
“I waited a long time,” he breathed.
Sheldon Thomas has walked out a free man after a New York state judge approved the local prosecutor’s motion to overturn the conviction.
In a statement, prosecutor Eric Gonzalez said a review investigation showed he was intentionally wrongfully accused by police using a photo of a namesake who is also African-American.
“The defendant was apprehended thanks to a witness who had identified someone else (in a photo) with the same name, an error later concealed and justified in the pleadings,” Mr. Gonzalez wrote.
This witness had therefore designated Sheldon Thomas on the basis of a photo of another Sheldon Thomas that the police had voluntarily and fraudulently removed from their database.
It was on the strength of this biased identification by the police that Mr. Thomas was arrested at his home and subsequently named, wrongly therefore, by this same witness. Following this supposedly unbiased line-up, Sheldon Thomas was found guilty of murder and sentenced to at least 25 years in prison.
According to the “National Registry of Exonerations”, an American university project, the approximately 2,500 people exonerated by the courts over the past 30 years have spent an average of 13.9 years in prison, with a maximum of 47 years and two months.
In November 2021, an African-American man in his 60s was exonerated and released in Missouri after 43 years in prison following a miscarriage of justice.