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Bushwick Man Freed After Nearly 30 Years in Prison, DA Says

By Serena Dai | October 15, 2014 9:40am | Updated on October 15, 2014 2:56pm
 District Attorney Ken Thompson announced Tuesday that David McCallum had been wrongly imprisoned for a 1985 murder.
Davd McCallum
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BUSHWICK — A 45-year-old Bushwick man imprisoned for nearly 30 years for a murder he's maintained he did not commit was freed Wednesday after Brooklyn prosecutors asked a judge to overturn the conviction. 

David McCallum was imprisoned at 16, along with suspect Willie Stuckey, after confessing to the 1985 murder of a 20-year-old Queens man. Both men later claimed their confessions were coerced and recanted.

Stuckey died in prison, while McCallum has maintained his innocence and ultimately became the subject of the recent documentary film, "David and Me."

District Attorney Ken Thompson announced Wednesday that his office's Conviction Review Unit found McCallum and Stuckey were indeed falsely imprisoned for the crime.

Thompson's office found that they had been fed false facts early in the investigation, he said.

"There is no evidence that links these two men to the crime," Thompson told reporters.

Thompson has made it one of his goals to review wrongful conviction claims since entering office, saying he inherited a "legacy of disgrace" from the previous administration. Some 30 out of 130 cases have been reviewed already, with 10 men being released.

McCallum's attorney Oscar Michelen, who has worked pro bono on the case for years, said that McCallum's family expressed "exuberance" upon hearing the news.

The family still lives across the street from where McCallum grew up and was arrested, near Cooper Street and Wilson Avenue in Bushwick.

"There's not words to describe the joy," Michelen said.

Advocates have said that no physical evidence ties McCallum and Stuckey to the murder of Nathan Blenner, and several witnesses identified men whose descriptions did not match either of the convicted men. Blenner was found shot to death in Brooklyn's Aberdeen Park on Oct. 20, 1985.

McCallum's case has received increased attention this year.

Boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who advocated for the wrongly imprisoned, pushed for McCallum's release and made it his dying wish to set him free.

Documentary filmmakers Ray Klonsky and Marc Lamy spent years following McCallum's story and ultimately debuted the film "David and Me" this year with the hope that it would help set McCallum free.

It screened at the Bushwick Film Festival earlier this month.

Thompson said that the increased press did not impact his decision to examine McCallum's case, noting that he made the decision in January.

The district attorney also committed to investigating who really murdered Blenner, noting that the Blenner family was "heartbroken" that they still don't know who committed the crime.

"The system failed Nathan Blenner's family," Thompson said. "Just as it failed William Stuckey and David McCallum."