WABC News reports that a man who was wrongfully convicted of a 1994 murder has been released from prison. A procedural error was discovered in the case of Joseph Jackson, 47, of Long Island.
Jackson was convicted in 1997 of murdering Steven Jason, 19, of Freeport. Prosecutors claim that he shot him as he was leaving an American Legion Hall party.
Jackson was arrested nine months after the shooting for selling crack cocaine to an informant, says WABC. After he was in police custody for 24 hours, Jackson wrote a 15-page confession letter for authorities. He claims he was beaten by police, coercing him to write the confession.
After requesting public records pertaining to his case, Jackson found two witness statements that were never submitted to court by his defense attorney. One of the witnesses was an off-duty NYPD officer who said he saw a dark-skinned man running from the scene of the crime. Jackson, however, is light-skinned.
According to criminal code, all information in a case that may prove a defendant’s innocence must be turned over to the defense. The district attorney claims it never saw these witness statements in its files. They were discovered in the Freeport Police Department archives, and were never given to the district attorney.
Prosecution witnesses included Jason’s girlfriend and Jackson’s cousin. Jackson’s cousin told authorities that Jackson shot Jason because he was due to provide testimony to the grand jury in a case against a friend of Jackson’s.
Jackson was acquitted after a six-month investigation by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit.
*Photo credit Newsday