Convicted of Murder as a Teen, at 62 He Finally Gets Justice

Judge vacates Keith Bush's murder conviction
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2019 2:34 PM CDT
He Spent Half His Life in Jail for a Murder He Didn't Commit
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / Michal Chodyra)

Keith Bush was convicted of murdering a 14-year-old girl when he was 17. The New York man spent 33 years in prison before being released on lifetime parole in 2007. On Wednesday, a judge vacated the now 62-year-old Bush's conviction, acknowledging that it was tainted because prosecutors didn't disclose that police had interviewed another possible suspect in the 1975 Long Island murder of Sherese Watson, the AP reports. "Mr. Bush, I cannot give you back that which was taken from you in the 1970s. But I can give you back your presumption of innocence," the judge said, per Newsday. Bush said he has "learned and grown" as a result of what happened to him, but when asked whether he forgives the police who were involved, he said no, per ABC 7: "Do you know what they did to me? Do you know what they did to the victim's family?" He says police beat him and forced him to sign a confession, the Wall Street Journal reports.

He added that he feels sorrow for Watson's family, as they will now never know for sure what happened to the girl, who was found strangled to death in a vacant lot. The other possible suspect in the case, John Jones, died in 2006, per USA Today. Police questioned Jones three months after they had secured Bush's confession—which officials have now deemed false—and Jones told them he left the same party Watson had attended on the night of her death, stumbled over her body, dropped his hair pick, and left it at the scene, where police found it. After police discarded him as a suspect, he went on to be arrested multiple times, including for raping and impregnating a 15-year-old girl. Bush's lawyer sued for case records and authorities turned over the statement from Jones; a review convinced Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini that the conviction should be overturned, and prosecutors filed to do just that. (See USA Today for much more on the problems with the case, which also include a witness who recanted her testimony and a racist cop.)

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