View Full Version : Judge Vacates Jogger Rape Convictions in Central Park Case

Dec 19th, 2002, 05:32 PM
Attorney Barry Scheck, center surrounded by family members and other attorneys speaks to the media following District Attorney Robert Morgenthau's report which vacated all guilty verdicts of the five young men convicted in the Central Park Jogger case in New York, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2002.

Judge Vacates Jogger Rape Convictions

Dec 19, 11:40 AM (ET)


NEW YORK (AP) - A judge dismissed the convictions Thursday of all five men who served years in prison for the 1989 rape and beating of a woman jogger in Central Park, a crime that exposed the city's racial tensions and made national headlines.

The courtroom, filled with the family and friends of the defendants, burst into cheers and applause as state Justice Charles Tejada announced his ruling.

Tejada's ruling, less than a week before Christmas, surprised attorneys who had expected his decision on Jan. 6. The defendants weren't in court.

The decision came two weeks after District Attorney Robert Morgenthau recommended dropping all the convictions in the case. The prosecutor cited new DNA evidence that implicates a convicted rapist who has confessed to the Central Park assault.

Tejeda's ruling came after lawyers from the police detectives' union unsuccessfully tried to block his ruling. The Detectives' Endowment Association wanted an evidentiary hearing first, said attorney Philip Karsyk.

The primary evidence in the case had been confessions made to detectives.

Supporters of the five have said those statements were coerced. The five black and Hispanic defendants ranged from age 14 to 16 when they were arrested for the April 19, 1989, attack.

Prosecutors have said they have no plans to retry the five.

No forensic evidence linked any of them to the crime scene. In addition, there was a DNA match with serial rapist Matias Reyes, who confessed to the jogger attack earlier this year.

The five, now ages 28 to 30, completed prison sentences ranging from 5 1/2 to 13 years on their convictions. Their lawyers have said they are considering lawsuits.

At the time of the attack, authorities said a roaming gang of youths was in the park for a night of "wilding" - randomly attacking anyone who came into their path.

The jogger, a 28-year-old white investment banker, was found near death in a puddle of mud and blood in the north end of the park. She was in coma for 12 days but eventually recovered. She now lives in a Connecticut suburb and works for a nonprofit organization and is expected to have a book out in April.

Besides rape and assault convictions in connection with the jogger, the five also were convicted on charges including assault, robbery, sex abuse and rioting stemming from allegations they attacked and harassed other people in the park that night.

Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson and Kharey Wise confessed on videotape. A detective testified at trial that the fifth, Yusef Salaam, made incriminating admissions to him but never on videotape.

Prosecutors earlier this month asked the court to void the convictions on the basis of the evidence against Reyes, including a semen sample that proved through DNA that he had assaulted the jogger. Reyes, 31, is serving time for murder and rape.

The ruling could clear the way for the release of Santana, who is currently imprisoned on an unrelated drug charge. Based on his conviction in the jogger case, he was sentenced as a prior felon, said his attorney, Roger Wareham.

Santana, serving a 3 1/2 to 7-year sentence, would be eligible for parole next July. Wareham was calling for his immediate release.

A spokeswoman for Santana's sentencing judge said Santana was not yet on their calendar.

Dec 19th, 2002, 07:56 PM

nasty nick#2
Dec 19th, 2002, 09:14 PM
So they could have been innocent all the time? If this serial rapist Reyes confessed he was guilty. But the girl must remember if there was one of five rapist right? And how come those five men got connected to the sexual assault in the first place, feels kinda messy to me.

Crazy Canuck
Dec 19th, 2002, 11:01 PM
nasty nick - The woman sustained head injuries and was not able to remember any details of the attack.

And the case WAS messy. Essentially, so it appears, the cops racially profiled, and then forced the young boys into a confession.

Even though their confession stories regarding details of the crime did not match up at all, they were still convicted.

Yes, it's all very "strange".

Cam'ron Giles
Dec 19th, 2002, 11:23 PM
I just dont get how boys 14-16 would confess to a crime they did not commit...It is indeed very strange. I understand that there are no forensic evidence linking them to the case but are they inocent? I dont know. They confessed to the point of giving details of the crime to investigators. Was trickery involved on the part of the investigators? All in all, if the boys were rail roaded they need to be compensated for wrongful conviction but we must remember that they were no angels and had to be up to no good on the night in question (though this does not justify prison sentences). We must all remember during this time the woman who almost lost her life. She is every bit the victim in this case.

nasty nick#2
Dec 19th, 2002, 11:27 PM
I guess they either were guilty of the sexual assault or they were some half criminals that were dumb enough to confess, seen La Confidential?

Dec 20th, 2002, 01:43 AM
TopShotta and Becca - excellent points. The fact that the same prosecutor of the case wanted the cases vacated indicates that these boys were innocent of the crimes they were charged with.

IMO, it was a rush to judgement and there was alot of pressure to get a conviction at the time, no matter if the evidence matched or not. I hope these young men get compensated for their lost years in prison.

I take my hat off to the prosecutor and the judge for doing the right thing in this case.