Sobering stats on exonerations in N.Y. | The Journal News |

Posted: April 17, 2011 by scaryhouse in Uncategorized

The only downside to the $6.5 million settlement the Westchester County Board of Legislators approved late Monday for Jeffrey Deskovic, who spent nearly 16 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit, is that the agreement denies the public a full hearing on the wrongful conduct and sloppy work that helped convict Deskovic, who was still behind bars when the real killer later struck again.

That public accounting could still come as the settlement only disposes of civil actions against Westchester and the county officials involved in the Deskovic case; unresolved are claims against Peekskill police officers who investigated the 1989 rape and murder of 15-year-old Angela Correa, ultimately coercing a false confession from Deskovic. He later disavowed the confession, but to no avail.

Deskovic was just 17 years old when a jury convicted him of strangling his Peekskill High classmate. Now 37 years old, Deskovic was released from prison in 2006, after new DNA testing linked another inmate to Correa’s death. Stephen Cunningham, already behind bars for the 1993 murder of another Peekskill resident, 40-year-old Patricia Morrison, subsequently admitted that he killed Correa, too.

Righting wrongs

In addition to the $6.5 million settlement, Deskovic has something the wrongly convicted hardly ever get — a virtual roadmap to the bad conduct that led to his conviction. Following his exoneration, an independent study commission appointed by then-new District Attorney Janet DiFiore — she ordered the DNA testing that led to Cunningham — issued a 35-page report on what went wrong during the investigation and prosecution that concluded with Deskovic’s conviction.

The study panel was generous with blame, writing in its 2007 report: “One can imagine a situation in which police, prosecutors, defense counsel and the courts each discharged their functions in a perfectly appropriate way, yet the result achieved was calamitously wrong. One can imagine such a case, but Jeffrey Deskovic’s case is not such a case. We have reviewed the voluminous public record of the proceedings below, and we are persuaded that, from the outset and continuing at every stage thereafter, errors were made that propelled the case towards its unjust outcome.”

via Sobering stats on exonerations in N.Y. | The Journal News |

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