Man wrongly convicted of murder exonerated 27 years later

By Daniel Uria  |  May 16, 2018 at 8:29 PM
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May 16 (UPI) -- A New York man wrongfully jailed for the murder of an off-duty correction officer in New York as a child has been exonerated.

John Bunn, 41, served 17 years in prison after being convicted of the murder at the age of 14 in August 1991 based on tainted evidence produced by former detective Louis Scarcella.

"It has been 27 years, I've been fighting for my life and I've been fighting for my innocence," Bunn said.

He was freed on parole in 2009 and won the right to a new trial in 2016, but he was ultimately exonerated after prosecutors said they wouldn't retry his case.

"I didn't deserve any of that stuff that you all did to me," Bunn said. "They won't admit and say that I'm an innocent man. But I'm an innocent man, your honor, and I have always been an innocent man. You all convicted and had a wrong man in prison, and you all still have somebody on the loose that killed someone."

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Shawn'Dya Simpson said Bunn shouldn't have been imprisoned and questioned the legal process leading to his conviction

"This case was tried ... a jury was picked, testimony was given and it concluded all in one day," Simpson said. "I don't consider that justice at all."

Bunn and Rosean Hargrave, then 16, were convicted in the shooting of Rikers Island correction officers Rolando Neischer and Robert Crosson.

They were placed in a photo array created by Scarcella for Crosson, who survived the shooting and identified Bunn and Hargrave as the suspects. Crosson also served as the lone witness in the trial.

Simpson told Bunn to "move forward" after the exoneration. In the years since his parole, Bunn started a non-profit literacy organization called A Voice 4 The Unheard and has collected more than 20,000 books for New York inmates.

"I don't know how I made it this far, but I believe I am here for a purpose," Bunn said.

Hargrove's conviction was also thrown out and his case won't be retried.

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