NY - Fernando Bermudez, wrongfully convicted of '91 murder, finally cleared

Discussion in 'Past Trial Discussion Threads' started by Wudge, Nov 13, 2009.

  1. Wudge

    Wudge New Member

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    "A year after Mr. Bermudez’s 1992 conviction, five witnesses who had identified him as the killer at trial recanted, saying in sworn affidavits that, they were coerced or manipulated by the police and prosecutors to identify Mr. Bermudez as the killer. Several of those witnesses reiterated their recantations in September at a hearing before Justice Cataldo.

    This was the 11th attempt to overturn his conviction by Mr. Bermudez, whose case had received a lengthy examination by The New York Times in 2007.

    Lawyers and advocates for the wrongfully convicted said the significance of Thursday’s ruling was twofold. They said it was one of the rare instances in New York in which a judge had ruled that a defendant was innocent without the presence of exonerating DNA evidence. They also said that by ruling that Mr. Bermudez was innocent, Justice Cataldo had bolstered the prisoner’s chance of collecting compensation from the state.

    “This case, like the overwhelming number of wrongful convictions, does not have the advantage of DNA,” said Scott Christianson, the author of “Innocent: Inside Wrongful Conviction Cases.” “So for this judge to assess all the evidence in the case and come to this decision is quite unusual.”

    In his 79-page decision, Justice Cataldo wrote that Mr. Bermudez’s rights were violated because the police had allowed prosecution witnesses to view Mr. Bermudez’s mug shot as a group and to discuss his resemblance to the killer. Justice Cataldo also found that the prosecution should have known before sentencing that one of its cooperating witnesses, Efraim Lopez — a teenager whom Mr. Blount had punched at the club — had given false testimony.

    “I find no credible evidence connects Fernando Bermudez to the homicide of Mr. Blount,” Justice Cataldo wrote. “All of the people’s trial evidence has been discredited: the false testimony of Efraim Lopez and the recanted identifications of strangers. I find, by clear and convincing evidence, that Fernando Bermudez has demonstrated he is innocent of this crime.”

    But prosecutors have contended that witnesses may have been pressured into changing their testimony.

    “We don’t think the defense has shown anything wrong with the verdict,” Mr. Dwyer said.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/13/nyregion/13freed.html?_r=1


    [This case was number #14 on my top 20 list of likely wrongful convictions.]
     
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  3. AmandaBrown23

    AmandaBrown23 Im just living among all the madness

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    Hearing about this kind of thing really scares me. Why would the police want to convict the wrong person???? That just leaves the real perps out on the street.
     
  4. Wudge

    Wudge New Member

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    LE and prosecutors frame people all the time. Sometimes prosecutors want to get promoted or keep their jobs, so they coach witnesses to lie or withhold exculpatory or exonerating evidence. Sometimes someone in LE simply doesn't like a person, so they arrange for them to be framed. Other times a detective hopes to make a name for themselves or feels they need to clear cases or they will get demoted or reassigned.
     
  5. RLynne

    RLynne Verified Expert

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    In addition to the reasons listed by Wudge, I think a common factor is tunnel vision. A police officer and/or prosecutor get focused on a particular person, for whatever reason. After that, anything that is contrary to their belief that this person is obviously guilty gets discarded, and it becomes easier to justify being just a little dishonest, to cut corners just a little, etc. After all, you're doing it all for the right reasons...

    If you google "wrongful conviction" and "tunnel vision", there are some very interesting articles out there.
     
  6. RLynne

    RLynne Verified Expert

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    Oh, and Wudge---what are the other 19 cases on your list?? I'd be interested to know!
     
  7. Bee Happy

    Bee Happy New Member

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    This is PART of the reason I am anti-death penalty. *sigh*
     
  8. JBean

    JBean Retired WS Administrator

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  9. kgeaux

    kgeaux New Member

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    Wudge lists many of the reasons in his following post, but really, sometimes it just boils down to "It's election year, and I can't have any unsolved cases on my books."

    I cannot tell you about how many cases I have read where LE and prosecutors have withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense, misrepresented the strength of the "evidence" they use at trial, or out and out LIE to the jury. So many of these "manipulated cases" are death penalty cases, too. So not only is the real criminal going free, but an innocent person stands to lose their life. There are many, HUNDREDS of documented cases where DNA has cleared a person after decades of sitting on death row!

    Sometimes it's because the local authorities are out of their league and won't "stoop" to allow other jurisdictions to help.....I've read cases of LE covering up evidence that would convict a certain person because he was one of their informants---and they thought it better that he get away with murder, letting someone else serve his time than they lose a valuable informant.

    All too true. I am really excited that the judge was able to look at the conduct of the prosecutors and decide that was enough; this guy's goose would still be cooked if the judge had required DNA evidence, since none is available. Thank you, wudge, for bringing these types of cases to our attention. It pays the public well to be educated!

    Me, too.
     
  10. Wudge

    Wudge New Member

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    #1 … Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, convicted in 1981 of the murder of his family.
    #2 … Fran and Dan Keller, convicted in 1991 of sexually abusing children -- Satanic ritual abuse.
    #3 … Patrick Figuered and Sonja Hill, convicted in 1992 of sexually abusing children – ritual sexual abuse.
    #4 … Robert Halsey, convicted in 1993 of sexual assault and molestation of children.
    #5 … Darlie Routier, convicted of the murder of her son Damien in 1996. Damien was one of her two sons who were murdered in their home.
    #6 … Scott Peterson, convicted in 2004 of the murder of his wife, Laci Peterson, in 2002.
    #7 … Linda Barnes and Jack Edward Barnes, convicted in 1984 of the rape of their children in years prior.
    #8 … Phillip Scott Cannon, convicted of murdering a man and two women in 1998. His conviction was recently overturned but a new trial is pending.
    #9 … Lamont McKoy, convicted in 1990 of the murder of Myron Hailey.
    #10 … Michael Peterson, convicted in 2003 of the murder of his wife, Kathleen Peterson.
    #11 … Mark Unger, convicted in 2006 of murder of his wife, Florence Unger.
    #12 … Samuel Jason Derrick, convicted in 1988 for the 1987 robbery and murder of Rama Sharma.
    #13 … Kirsten Lobatto, convicted in 2002 of murdering Duran Bailey. Her conviction was overturned in 2004. In 2006, she was retried and was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and the sexual penetration of a corpse.
    #14… Fernando Bermundez, convicted in 1992 of the 2nd degree murder of Ray Blount in 1991. Declared innocent by Judge Cataldo in November 2009.
    #15 … David Wayne Boyce, convicted in 1991 of the 1990 murder of his roommate, Timothy Kurt Askew.
    #16 … The West Memphis Three, in 1993, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin were convicted of the murders of three young children.
    #17 … Gabriel Ferris, convicted in 2005 of murdering Cheryl Miller in 1974.
    #18 … Michael Parker, convicted in 1993 for the ritual sexual abuse of his three children in 1991.
    #19 … Tom Richardson, convicted in 2008 of the murder of his wife, Juanita Richardson in 2006.
    #20 … Ryan Widmer, convicted in April, 2009 of murdering his wife (drowning her in a bathtub). Based on juror misconduct -- three jurors experimented on their own -- he was recently granted a new trial, which is scheduled to start March 15, 2010.
     
  11. Wudge

    Wudge New Member

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    Here's a straight frame-up.

    "The California Innocence Project also argued that fiber evidence may have been falsified by someone employed by the County. The prosecution claimed that a tuft of 15 light-blue fibers were found in a tear in the victim’s fingernail. According to the prosecution, the fibers matched those of the shirt Richards was wearing the night of the murder. However, members of the California Innocence Project discovered that photos taken just after the victim’s autopsy clearly showed no such fibers in the fingernail. After the autopsy, the victim’s fingers were severed and sent to a county criminalist for review. Sometime after that, the fibers appeared."

    http://publicdefenderdude.blogspot.com/2009/08/health-care-reform.html
     
  12. MeoW333

    MeoW333 New Member

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  13. fran

    fran Former Member

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    Oh brother! From your link:

    But Bermudez remained behind bars because he hadn’t served a 27-month sentence in a federal drug case.


    A federal judge on Thursday ordered that Bermudez be released at least until June 30 while his lawyers ask federal officials to credit his drug sentence as served.



    I'm sorry, but they need to give him credit for time served. He's more than payed the price for anything he did in the past! :mad:

    JMHO
    fran
     
  14. fran

    fran Former Member

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    Ahhh, cute picture of him with his wife! :)

    fran



    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_...ears_fernando_bermudez_is_now_a_free_man.html

    Wrongfully jailed for 18 years, Fernando Bermudez is now a free man

    After 18 years of clinging desperately to the truth, exonerated killer Fernando Bermudez walked out of Sing Sing prison Friday and wrapped both arms around his wife.

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<full article at link>>>>>>>>>>>>
     
  15. fran

    fran Former Member

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    Just FWIW, on why he was convicted and then set free.

    :mad:
    fran

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_...ears_fernando_bermudez_is_now_a_free_man.html

    ......................snip........................

    Bermudez was convicted in 1992 of murdering Raymond Blount, 16, after the victim punched another teen in the Marc Ballroom near Union Square. He was jailed for 435 days before his conviction and arrived in state prison on Oct. 13, 1992.

    Last week, a Manhattan judge declared him an innocent man. Supreme Court Justice John Cataldo dismissed the case based on witness misconduct.

    One witness lied on the stand, and others were allowed to view a mug shot of Bermudez before they identified him. All have since recanted.

    A federal judge cleared the last obstacle for Bermudez, releasing him Thursday from serving a 27-month sentence on a drug conviction. The judge's order ensures Bermudez will remain free through June 30, 2010, as his lawyers ask federal officials to credit his drug sentence as time served.
     

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