Yesterday, Bronx Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett vacated the 1991 murder conviction of Huwe Burton. Justice Barrett based his decision on findings by the Bronx District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) that detectives from the 47th precinct had coerced Burton into falsely confessing to murdering his mother, Keziah Burton, when he was just 16 years old.
Following his exoneration, Burton addressed the court and the press. Excerpts from his remarks are below, in addition to photos of his first moments of freedom in 30 years. All photos by Sameer Abdel-Khalek.
“First, I want to thank the CIU and my attorneys for all the work that they did. It’s been a long, long journey. I could have not made it here by myself.”
“I want to thank the people who didn’t get to see this day. They’re the reason I’m standing here. One of those people is my mother…She was one of the strongest people I’ve ever known. She gave me a strong set of values. I stand here today for her, because if I don’t, who will?”
“I stand here today for my father who never made it through this journey. He had the responsibility of dealing with his wife’s death and dealing with his son’s defense at the same time. I didn’t know who could manage that. But somehow, he managed it. He managed to balance it for 13 years. He died in 2005…I stand here for him.”
“My advice to other innocent people in prison is don’t stop. Don’t give up. Continue to fight. Don’t lay down. The moment you lay down—that’s when it’s over.”
Now that he’s exonerated, Burton plans to run the New York Marathon in November, which he already ran in 2016, and to find and help other innocent people who are in prison for crimes they didn’t commit.
Read the full press release here.