Man Wrongfully Convicted Of Murder Walks Free After 24 Years In Prison
A man from New York has been released from prison after more than two decades when the original verdict was overturned.
Pablo Fernandez, 47, has spent half of his life behind bars at Rikers Island Correctional Facility for a shooting that he didn't commit.
Following his release on 2 August, Fernandez told the New York Post: "It was so difficult for me to be in prison for so many years when I knew the case against me was totally fabricated."
He added: "I survived because of my faith in God and because my family and my lawyers never stopped believing in my innocence".
Fernandez was just 22 when he was charged in 1995 with the murder of Manny Quintero, 18, which took place in 1993 on a busy street in Harlem, New York.
The New York Post reported that he was convicted in 1996 with a 25-to-life sentence being passed.
Back in February, a panel of three judges listened to an appeal which asked to overturn the defendant's conviction after Jesus Calea - a key witness in the murder trial - admitted that he falsely identified Fernandez as the killer.
Calea told the court that he had been coerced by former NYPD officer Albert Melino who was fired following Fernandez's conviction after it was revealed that he had sold half a kilogram of cocaine before joining the force.
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During the appeal, prosecutors refused to believe that Fernandez was innocent but instead offered him the opportunity to receive credit for the time served if he would plead guilty to manslaughter.
Not giving up, Fernandez refused the deal meaning that he had to sit in prison for a further six months until a judge granted him $250,000 (£203,000) bail.
Then Manhattan Assistant District Attorney, Jeanne Olivo, vowed to retry the case but gave up on 13 September and asked Justice Curtis Farber to dismiss the charges due to lack of evidence, the Mail Online reported.
Court records show that three eyewitnesses explained that Albert Melino showed them a picture of Fernandez and ordered them to say he was the shooter.
Fernandez' defence lawyers found another victim caught up in the incident back in 1993 called Henry Gomez who received a wound to his leg.
Despite not being able to track him down prior to the initial trial, Gomez has since testified saying that Hernandez was not the man who shot him.
Speaking after his release, Hernandez said: "It has been such a blessing for my mother, who is 83 years old, to see me as a free man again".
Featured Image Credit: Stefan Jeremiah
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