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Brooklyn Man Released After Judge Vacates 1995 Murder Conviction

By Innocence Staff

A Brooklyn man who falsely confessed to a 1995 murder and robbery was released Wednesday after 20 years in prison after a judge vacated his conviction with consent from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office. The case is one of 40 cases handled by Detective Louis Scarcella that is being reinvestigated by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s conviction review unit.

Jabbar Washington was only 23 when he was arrested after being identified by one of the victims of a shooting and robbery. Before testifying before the grand jury, the witness told police that she recognized Washington from the building but could not say that he was involved in the crime. The trial prosecutor, who has since been sued in federal court for malicious prosecution and was found to have committed prosecutorial misconduct in an unrelated case, did not disclose this information to Washington’s defense attorney.

Washington confessed to the crime, but at trial he testified that his confession was coerced by Detective Scarcella, who he said beat him, choked him and squeezed his testicles during the interrogation. Washington’s is the eighth conviction to be thrown out pursuant to the review of Scarcella’s cases.

“It wasn’t just Louis Scarcella,” Washington’s attorney Ron Kuby told the New York Daily News. “It was a whole institution in the DA’s office and on the bench and on the appellate courts that simply wanted crime to be punished.”

After his release, Washington and his family celebrated at the Brownstone, a local restaurant owned by Brooklyn exonerees Derrick Hamilton and Shabaka Shakur.

Read the Daily News coverage here and the New York Times coverage here.

Related: CBS News Highlights Brooklyn Exonerees Shabaka Shakur and Derrick Hamilton

1 Comment

  1. First, I congratulate Mr. Washington on his release after over two decades in captivity. Washington’s incarceration underscores the recurring incidences within the American criminal justice system of witness intimidation, use of false witnesses, hiding exculpatory evidence, and other unwholesome means by prosecutors and government agents to win cases. Sadly, An average prosecutor is driven more by a desire to rack up wins and boost his résumé than to ensure the fair dispensation of justice, despite prosecutors’ well-established ethical and Constitutional obligation not simply to win a case, but to ensure that justice is served. Unfortunately, many prosecutors fail to heed the admonitions of Judge Jackson, when he said about 77 years ago, that: “… your positions are of such independence and importance that while you are being diligent, strict, and vigorous in law enforcement you can also afford to be just. Although the government technically loses its case, it has really won if justice has been done.”

    Currently, there is no accountability in the U.S. criminal justice system, and those that become entangled in the cobweb of the legal system have no one to cry to for help. Consequently, the system is heading towards a precipice. There is an urgent need for deliberate and lasting reforms. Reform efforts must include policy makers, students, academics, inmates, and most Americans who believe that justice is served only when it is fair and just.

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