On a Single Day, Two Men Are Cleared in Decades-Old Manhattan Murders


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By Andy Newman and Nate Schweber, The New York Times

Jabar Walker and Wayne Gardine were convicted in an era of crime and corruption that has created a wave of exonerations years later.

Jabar Walker came to court Monday with his wrists manacled. He walked out a free man. (Jefferson Siegel/The Times)

The killings happened eight blocks apart within nine months, near the height of New York City’s crack wars, in a Harlem precinct that was becoming synonymous with police corruption.

As of Monday, the two otherwise unrelated murder cases have something else in common: The men who were convicted were exonerated at a Manhattan courthouse. They are the latest in a long string of New Yorkers, overwhelmingly Black and Hispanic, who have had their names cleared after decades in prison.

One of the men, Jabar Walker, 49, was convicted of shooting two men in a parked car in 1995 and remained incarcerated even though a man who had testified that he heard Mr. Walker confess recanted in an affidavit.The other, Wayne Gardine, also 49, was convicted in a case where the only evidence against him was the word of a drug dealer who changed his story several times, described the killer as six feet tall when Mr. Gardine is only 5-foot-8, and was known for providing police with information in attempts to get his own criminal cases minimized.

Mr. Gardine’s case was overseen by a detective who later pleaded guilty to a drug trafficking conspiracy. Mr. Gardine was paroled last year but immediately placed in an immigration detention center and faces deportation to his native Jamaica.

Mr. Gardine’s cause was taken up by the Legal Aid Society’s Wrongful Conviction Unit, and Mr. Walker’s by the Innocence Project. A unit at the Manhattan district attorney’s office that looks into possible wrongful convictions collaborated on both investigations.

Since 1989, at least 115 murder convictions in New York City have been overturned, a substantial portion of the nearly 1,300 overturned nationwide, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.

Read more about the cases in the original article.

Learn more about the crisis of mass incarceration in the U.S. in this virtual exhibit.

Find more Breaking News here.

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