Author: Cynthia Diaz Shephard/Wed, May 07, 2014/Categories: Blog

The Brooklyn district attorney is working to vacate three murder convictions that involve the dubious investigative work of a former New York detective.

Disgraced former detective, Louis Scarcella, has been accused of sending scores of men to prison, some for decades, for crimes they did not commit, according to The New York Times. In this case, three half-siblings were wrongfully imprisoned for a murder case that involved both Scarcella and evidence that has been called into question.

Scarcella’s work is at the center of at least 57 wrongful convictions that are under review by the Brooklyn DA’s office. When the request to vacate is granted, the half-brothers, Alvena Jennette, Robert Hill, and Darryl Austin, will be the first to be exonerated as part of the DA’s review, The New York Times reported. The DA’s office will speak to a judge this week to have the wrongful murder convictions vacated.

Scarcella was also involved in David Ranta’s wrongful conviction. Ranta served 23 years of a 37 ½-year prison sentence for a 1990 murder of a Rabbi he did not commit. Ranta filed a claim that was settled by the New York City’s comptroller’s office with the City of New York for $6.4 million before the civil lawsuit was filed, according to a prior CBS/AP report.

In addition to being blamed for his part in dozens of wrongful convictions, Scarcella has been accused of manufacturing confessions, witness coercion, and neglecting to turn in exculpatory evidence, according to The New York Times. In fact, the media outlet also discovered that Scarcella utilized the same woman, a crack addict who has since died, in six separate murder cases. This particular witness also testified against the three half-brothers.

Hill, 53, has been in state prison since 1988. He suffers from multiple sclerosis and is the only one of the half-brothers who is still behind bars. Hill is just weeks away from parole. His half-brother, Jenette, 50, was released on parole in 2007. Sadly, Austin was 37 when he died in prison 14 years ago. Austin’s exoneration will be received posthumously, and his mother will stand in for him in court, The New York Times wrote.

Sundhe Moses was another man who was investigated by Scarcella. Moses was wrongly convicted of the murder of a four-year-old girl in 1995. According to Moses, he was beaten by Scarcella until he confessed. He was finally released after serving 16 years when he was found to be innocent of the crime and of being another victim of Scarcella’s disreputable investigative practices, according to a The New York Daily News report.

Brooklyn DA Kenneth P. Thompson unseated former DA Charles J. Hynes this January following Hynes’ 24 years as DA. DA Thompson, as part of his campaign promises, said he would clean up the DA’s office and began his term with 57 of Scarcella’s cases and about 24 additional, non-Scarcella cases, all involving potential wrongful convictions that require review. Another 10 cases have been added, bringing the total to about 90, The New York Times reported.

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