Men Wrongfully Convicted Of Murder Forced To Relive Nightmare To Get Compensation From State
WABC, Dec. 3, 2002
(New York-WABC, December 3, 2002) — They served 14 years behind bars for a murder they didn’t commit and now they want New York to pay. They are suing the state, but to collect, the two Brooklyn men must prove their innocence all over again. The Investigators’ Sarah Wallace, who first told their story three years ago, brings us this latest twist.
New York State law provides for compensation for victims of wrongful convictions, in an attempt to repay financially, in some way, what the state stole in years. But critics say the Attorney General’s office deliberately sets up a system to stall any payment, to put victims on trial again.
Anthony Faison and Charles Shepherd proved their innocence once, but that’s not enough. They’re being put through another trial, as they sue the state for $30 million, trying to collect money for 14 years of lost freedom.
Charles Shepherd, Wrongfully Convicted: “It really hurts to sit back and hear all these stories about we’ve been proven innocent. But then we’re guilty.”
Sarah Wallace, Eyewitness News: “How do you feel about that?”
Anthony Faison, Wrongfully Convicted: “I feel very bad, because the trauma and stress that we have already lived and took our families through, we have to relive it all again.”
The two Brooklyn men made headlines in May of last year, when they were freed after serving 13 years of a murder sentence in state prison. They were wrongfully convicted of a 1987 murder outside the Albany Houses in Brooklyn.
New evidence, first uncovered by the Eyewitness News Investigators, revealed the men were innocent. The prosecution’s only eyewitness, a former drug, addict admitted to us that she had lied. Then a repeat felon confessed to the murder and was convicted. Prosecutors from the Brooklyn DA’s office and the trial judge apologized to the two men.
On Tuesday, the legal team for the New York State Attorney General’s office refused to say anything outside court. But in court they claimed Faison and Shepherd aren’t entitled to compensation under the law, because they can’t prove they weren’t involved in the crime.
Ron Kuby, Faison and Shepard’s Attorney: “The state simply doesn’t want to pay. Oh, the state’s big on making other people pay for the things that they do wrong, but when the state does wrong, they drag it out and they prolong and they delay and they obstruct. And it’s outrageous.”
But there’s something different in this trial. The star witness in the suit against the state is the woman who originally framed the men for murder. This time she’s testifying for them. Carolyn Van Buren is weak and feeble from AIDS, but she remains determined.
Carolyn Van Buren, Witness: “That I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. And I really mean that. And I hope they get paid and go on with they lives.”
Charles Shepherd is currently working as a social worker for people with AIDS and HIV, something he told us he wanted to do once he was freed. Anthony Faison, meanwhile, is in video production. A civil judge will make the final decision about the price tag of 13 lost years in state prison and another year in jail. The men are suing for $30 million each.