Photo courtesy of Centurion Ministries
In April 2001, Danny Brown was released from prison more than 18 years after being convicted of aggravated murder.
Brown had been dating the victim for several months prior to her murder. She was brutally raped and murdered while her two children, a six-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter, were in the apartment. The police found her with an extension cord wrapped around her neck.
Brown's conviction was based on the testimony of the victim's six-year-old son, who identified "Danny" as one of two men who had been in the apartment some time that night. The boy stated that he awoke to a loud noise and saw Brown enter the building from a window. After seeing Brown in a heated argument with his mother, the boy ran up to his room and hid under his bed. He fell asleep after the perpetrator left and reported what he had seen to his neighbor the following morning.
The boy later picked Brown out of a lineup and became the primary witness for the prosecution. The boy's eyewitness identification convinced the jury to convict Brown, despite concerns raised by the defense about the reliability of eyewitness testimony of a traumatized six-year-old and numerous alibi witnesses who testified on Brown's behalf. Brown was sentenced to life in prison.
Brown was assisted on appeal by his trial attorney Jon Richardson and Centurion Ministries, a New Jersey-based nonprofit that works to overturn wrongful convictions. DNA testing was conducted, and the results excluded Brown as the perpetrator. The tests also implicated an incarcerated felon named Sherman Preston, who was convicted of similar killing in 1983.
Based on the exculpatory DNA testing results, Brown was released in April 2001. He filed a wrongful imprisonment suit in 2002. In their opposition to the suit, the District Attorney's office asserted that Brown may have been with Preston at the crime scene, despite the testimony of their main witness, the victim's son, that established that only one man was present.