Judge Tosses 'Bewildering' Murder Conviction

Frees defendant after 23 years in prison

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 17, 2013 10:00 AM CST

(Newser) – A federal judge yesterday overturned the decades-old murder conviction of a Brooklyn man, lambasting the trial judge's decisions as "incomprehensible," the jury's conclusion as "bewildering," the man's lawyers as "indolent and ill prepared," and the prosecutors as "overzealous and deceitful." William Lopez has spent 23 years in prison on the charge, but now must be freed within 60 days, the New York Times reports. "The prosecution's evidence was flimsy to begin with," the judge said, "and has since been reduced to rubble."

Lopez was convicted of killing a drug dealer in a Brooklyn crack house on the strength of two witnesses' testimony. One of those witnesses described a man a half foot taller than Lopez, and was unable to identify him when he was sitting in the courtroom. The other later admitted prosecutors had cut a secret deal with her in exchange for a reduced sentence on a drug charge. The case is notable as yet another strike against longtime Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes, the Times points out. Hynes' office has seen several convictions vacated in recent years.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes appears at a press conference in New York, in this Dec. 9, 2008 file photo. Hynes' office has been repeatedly criticized for its methods.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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