The Manhattan district attorney is expected to call this morning for the full dismissal of charges against the five African-American and Latino young men who were convicted in the notorious 1989 Central Park jogger case.
The men were aged between 14 and 16 when they were convicted for participating in the brutal gang rape of the jogger, as well as for a series of muggings in April 1989. They each served up to 13 years in prison. They were convicted largely based on videotaped confessions that many believe were coerced. Much of what the youths said about the rape was incorrect, including when, where and how it took place.
If Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau recommends dropping the charges today, it will have no immediate impact on the convictions of the five men–Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Kharey Wise. Only the judge presiding over the case, Charles Tejada, can vacate the guilty verdicts, a decision that is considered likely but not imminent.
Newsday is reporting that this could be the largest multi-defendant case ever overturned on faulty confessions.
The case was revisited earlier this year when convicted rapist and murderer Matias Reyes confessed that he alone had raped the woman in Central Park on April 19, 1989. DNA evidence backed up Reyes’ confession. No other biological evidence was left at the crime scene.
Reyes was never questioned at the time of the crime. But The New York Times is reporting that an NYPD sex crimes detective in 1989 had determined Reyes to be a prime suspect in another Central Park rape that occurred just two nights before the April 19th attack.
But, the Times reports, the detective was soon transferred to another case. Reyes was never questioned. He would go on to rape and kill one woman and rape three more on the Upper East Side. He was never linked to the Central Park Jogger case, which at the time was considered a closed case.
A reconstruction of the night of the crime by the New York Times has also displayed a significant conflict: at the time the jogger was believed to have been attacked, the police also claimed that the teenagers were involved in muggings elsewhere in the park. But no evidence beyond the tainted videotaped confessions implicate the boys in the muggings either.
- Michael Warren, attorney for three of the Central Park Jogger defendants.
Past Democracy Now! coverage of the Central Park Jogger case:
- Dec. 3, 2002: Manhattan DA Set to Determine the Fate of the Central Park Jogger Rape Case this Week: Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist Sydney Schanberg Discusses the New Evidence and the Power Politics that have Always Swirled Around this Controversial Case
- Oct. 31, 2002: Juror Speaks Out Against Convictions in the Central Park Jogger Case: A Meeting Between the Juror and the Mother of One of the Young Men Who Was Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison
- Sept. 20, 2002: The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Asks for More Time to Investigate the Famous Central Park Case: A Roundtable Discussion on Forced Confessions
- Sept. 6, 2002: Central Park Jogger Case is Reopened After New DNA Evidence Shows Five African-American and Latino Youths who were Imprisoned for Years Did Not Commit the Rape