A Brooklyn, New York judge on Tuesday overturned the murder conviction of a man who served 16 years in prison, the New York Daily News reports.
John Bunn, 39, was just 15 years old in 1991 when a jury found him and another teen, Rosean Hargrave, guilty of murdering an off-duty corrections officer and attempting to kill another man.
The investigation involved retired NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella, who used “corrupt practices” to get convictions in the 1980s and 1990s.
The survivor testified that two individuals on bicycles robbed them at gunpoint. The assailants left their bikes at the scene after the shooting and drove away in the stolen car. Bunn and Hargrave always maintained their innocence.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Shawn’Dya Simpson underscored a lack of evidence against Bunn and Hargrave, pointing out that fingerprints taken from the bicycles and the stolen car did not match the defendants’ fingerprints.
“Given the paltry seemingly unreliable evidence used to convict and the evidence that has recently surfaced concerning the corrupt practices of the detectives that investigated this case, the judgement herein is to be vacated,” said Simpson.
Bunn had been out of prison on parole since 2009. The News said he filed a motion to overturn his conviction after Simpson vacated Hargrave’s conviction in April 2015.
The judge highlighted that Scarcella’s “false and misleading practices” led to the decades-long incarceration of five other individuals.
In 2013, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office began reviewing murder convictions involving the once legendary detective, who led homicide investigations at the peak of the crack epidemic. The New York Times said the review came after serious questions emerged surrounding his tactics.
Scarcella’s lawyers called it “troubling” that Simpson vacated Bunn’s conviction before the appeals court ruled on her decision to throw out Hargrave’s conviction.
“We believe that both of her decisions were erroneous on both the facts and the law,” the statement continued, according to The News.