"There's a saying, when it's too good to be true, it usually is," a Brooklyn judge said yesterday, blasting the methods of retired NYPD detective Louis Scarcella and freeing a man Scarcella sent to prison for a 1991 murder. She overturned the conviction of Rosean Hargrave, which is one of dozens of Scarcella cases that came under review since the detective known as a "legend" for his conviction rate was accused of framing an innocent man, the New York Times reports. Hargrave, who was 17 when he was convicted of killing an off-duty correction officer, is now 40, and he was surrounded by family and friends as he walked out of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn yesterday, the Times reports. Another teen convicted in the case was freed in 2009.
The judge ordered a new trial, saying Scarcella, "at the time of the investigation, engaged in false and misleading practices" that "manifested disregard to the rules, law and the truth [and] undermine our judicial system," the New York Daily News reports. Six other Scarcella murder convictions have been tossed by prosecutors over the last two years, but this is the first one overturned by a judge, reports the Daily News. A Times report on the Hargrave case last fall found a long series of "missteps, errors, and questionable decisions," including reliance on a single eyewitness, an apparent failure to test blood samples from the crime scene, vanished forensic evidence, and a decision to prosecute even when fingerprints at the scene didn't match those of either defendant.