New Yorker cleared after 29 years in jail for murder

A New Yorker who was in prison for 29 years for a murder was exonerated when a judge determined that his conviction was based on a false confession.

AFP| Updated: Oct 16, 2014, 01:40 AM IST

New York: A New Yorker who was in prison for 29 years for a murder was exonerated when a judge determined that his conviction was based on a false confession.

David McCallum was 16 years old when he and Willie Stuckey were arrested in 1985 for the October 20 kidnapping and murder of 20-year-old Nathan Blenner in Queens.

Blenner's body was found one day later in a rough area of Brooklyn.

The two teens were arrested shortly after the discovery of the body, and confessed to the crime. They were convicted the following year and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

"After examining all of the facts and circumstances of the case against McCallum and Stuckey -- the verdict against whom was based entirely on their confessions -- the convictions cannot be sustained," Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson said in a statement yesterday.

Thompson has asked a court to vacate the sentences and free McCallum. A judge was expected to rule later in the day.

Stuckey died years ago in prison.

Since Thompson took up his post in January, dozens of cases -- mainly homicides -- are being reviewed by a special unit headed by a Harvard law professor.

The unit's investigation had concluded that the confessions by McCallum and Stuckey were "false and not supported by physical or testimonial evidence," Thompson said.

So far, the unit's investigations have led to the vacation of nine convictions, while 17 others have been deemed valid.