Brooklyn Judge Exonerates 3 Men of Murder Due to Integrity of Witness
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Three half brothers convicted of murder in the 1980s were cleared Tuesday after prosecutors acknowledged that they did not receive a fair trial.
A Brooklyn judge vacated murder convictions against half brothers Darryl Austin, Alvena Jennette and Robert Hill after Brooklyn District Attorney's Conviction Review Unit found the same witness in two different 1980s murders was unreliable, the DA's office said.
"Based on a comprehensive review of these cases, it is clear that testimony from the same problematic witness undermined the integrity of these convictions, and resulted in an unfair trial for each of these defendants," Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said. "We therefore have moved to vacate these convictions and dismiss the charges in the interest of justice."
The witness, Teresa Gomez, was used in several homicide cases by Det. Louis Scarcella, whose police work is being investigated.
"Gomez had major issues with inconsistency in her testimony, her overall credibility," Jennette's lawyer, Pierrer Sussman, said in Brooklyn Supreme Court Tuesday. "She was an avowed crack user who couldn’t even straight about the seriousness of her drug use."
Austin, who was convicted with Jennette of the September 1985 robbery and murder of Ronnie Durante on Nostrand Avenue, died in prison after serving 14 years. Jeanette did 20 years before being paroled in 2007.
"I'm feeling great because everything is over with. I just thank God every day," Jennette said after being exonerated in Brooklyn Supreme Court. "I've never stopped believing."
Hill was cleared for the June 1987 murder of Donald Manboardes on Rogers Avenue after serving 27 years of a life sentence.
Members of the courtroom audience broke out into applause when Judge Neil Firetog vacated his conviction.