Sunday, 7 February 2010
Rochester, N.Y. – Thirty-three years after his wrongful conviction and 28 years after he was released on parole, Freddie Peacock, 60, has been exonerated with DNA testing at a Thursday hearing in Rochester.
It’s all part of something called the “Innocence Project,” which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law. Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld and Peacock’s other attorneys were in court with Peacock.
Peacock, who is mentally ill, was convicted of raping a Rochester woman in December 1976. At that time he told the officers about recent hospitalizations, but they continued to interrogate him until he allegedly confessed to the crime.
He was sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. He was later released on parole in 1982.
A state judge in Rochester dismissed Peacock's conviction Thursday afternoon.
Peacock’s family is simply relieved, they say this was a long time coming and are very happy with the result. Peacock was advised by his attornies him not to speak.
A spokesman for the New York City-based Innocence Project says it took on the case in 2002 after being contacted by Peacock, who always maintained his innocence. He says the organization has handled other cases involving individuals cleared after their release from prison, but none after as long a time as Peacock's.
The group says police badgered the mentally challenged Peacock until he said “I did it,” despite the fact he had no details about how, when or where.
“The alleged confession had all the hallmarks of a false confession,” said Olga Akselrod of the Innocence Project.
Freddie's sister Edith says she's thrilled for her brother and is thankful for DNA evidence which the Innocence Project used to clear her brother's name. To other families facing similar situations, wrongful convictions, she says stay strong.
“Never give up. Keep fighting. DNA really is a good thing,” she said.
The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office consented to DNA testing and joined the Innocence Project in a motion to vacate Peacock’s conviction and dismiss the indictment against him, which fully exonerates him.
“Frankly, I’m glad for Mr. Peacock,” said District Attorney Mike Green. “If this case happened again today with the DNA technology that’s available to us, I’m very confident we wouldn’t be in this position and that that test would have been done before trial.”
The case is considered by the Project to be a national milestone, because it marks the 250th DNA exoneration in the United States.
Among the 250 DNA exonerations:
· 25 were in New York (the only states with more DNA exonerations overall are Texas with 40 and Illinois with 29)
· 76% of the wrongful convictions involved eyewitness misidentification.
· 50% involved unvalidated or improper forensic science.
· 27% relied on a false confession, admission or guilty plea.
· 70% are people of color (60% of the exonerated are black; nearly 9% are Latino; 29% are white).
Posted by XXX at 13:27