In September 1984, teenager Carlos Carromero got into an argument with a stranger named John Pugh in New York City and shot Pugh in the back. Pugh wound up paralyzed and Carromero served 10 years after pleading guilty to attempted murder. Upon his release, he got hooked on heroin and repeatedly ran into trouble with the law. But by 2013, at age 44, he'd gotten clean with the help of relatives in Rhode Island, landed his first legit job, and met a girl he wanted to marry. And that, reports BuzzFeed in a lengthy look at this case, is when the paralyzed Pugh died back in the Bronx, the result of accumulated ailments related to his paralysis. The medical examiner listed the manner of death as "homicide (shot by another)," and Carromero found himself arrested on murder charges 29 years after the shooting.
Double jeopardy, you say? Nope. Carromero served time for attempted murder, and this was actual murder. Such delayed-death cases are rare, notes BuzzFeed, and this one rarer still given that nearly three decades have passed. An incredulous Carromero refused a plea bargain—he wanted a jury to hear his story and vindicate him—but he was still waiting in prison for his trial three years later and so finally relented. With time served, he was released in September of this year. The unusual case touches on the "very purpose of punishment in the court system," writes Albert Samaha, and "what it means for justice to be served." Click for the full piece, which tracks the stories of both men before and after the shooting. (Read more Longform stories.)