A wrongfully convicted man in Brooklyn goes free after 17 years in prison. According to the New York Times, Roger Logan was blamed for the murder of Sherwin Gibbons, which occurred in the summer of 1997. At the time, law enforcement officials said that the murder resulted from a case of mistaken revenge; prosecutors said that Logan had gone after someone who stole his gold chain at a dice game, although Gibbons was not the intended target. He was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Now, Mr. Logan has been exonerated and walks free.
“They told me maybe an hour ago that I’d been exonerated,” he said, according to NYT. “I never had this feeling before. I’ve been waiting for this day for 17 and a half years.”
Mr. Logan’s case was one of 57 being reviewed by the Brooklyn district attorney’s office in connection with retired detective Louis Scarcella, whose credibility is now being questioned. Scarcella’s detective work came under scrutiny when it was discovered that he used the testimony of the same crack addict in several different cases. District attorney Kenneth P. Thompson and his office are also looking at dozens of other cases, mostly from the 1980’s and 1990’s when the crime rate was extraordinarily high, he said. So far, six cases have been vacated.
“The duty of a prosecutor is to do justice, not just to get convictions,” Mr. Thompson said to the NYT. He said he wanted to “restore the faith that people have in our criminal justice system.”
Mr. Logan had written to the DA’s office from prison asking them to take another look at his case when he heard about Scarcella’s methods coming under scrutiny, although the office would have reviewed his case regardless since they are looking at all his convictions. Logan’s conviction was largely based on the testimony of an eyewitness named Aisha Jones, who said that she was on the street when saw him kick open the vestibule door and start shooting on July 24, the day of the shooting. Ms. Jones said she ran into her apartment and looked out her window to see him firing the final shows. She also testified that she saw him several times throughout the day of the murder. A judge allowed her to identify the suspect based on this testimony.
A conviction-review lawyer noticed that Ms. Jones had been arrested the day before the murder, and could not have been free earlier than 7 p.m. This means that she could not have seen Logan “all day” on July 24th as she claimed. Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., a Harvard Law professor who is a consultant to the DA, said that if this information was known, then the judge probably would not have allowed her to identify him in court.
Furthermore, a re-enactment of Jones’ story revealed that she “would have had to be extraordinarily fast” in order for her to be telling the truth about making it to her apartment in time to see the rest of th shooting, Sullivan said. “I’m stopping short of saying it’s a physical impossibility,” he stated. When detectives found Ms. Jones recently, she claimed to be a high-school track athlete (investigators noted that she was 5 foot 6 and about 170 pounds at the time) and insisted that she out from jail early enough. Jones also changed her story and said she saw the entire shooting from the street, not her apartment.