Sundhe Moses’ conviction overturned after 18 years in prison on wrongful conviction
After spending 18 years in prison, Sundhe Moses finally had his name cleared when Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dineen Riviezzo decided to overturn his 20-year-old conviction for his role in the death of a 4-year-old girl during a hearing on Thursday.
Moses has not been exonerated, the conviction was merely overturned, which means that he may end up back in court for the charges that he already spent 18 years in jail for. The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office now has to decide to retry the case, appeal this decision or dismiss the charges.
Moses’ attorney Ron Kuby said that worst-case scenario is probably that Moses could end up back on parole. He was released on parole four years ago. Most likely, though, Kuby said the Brooklyn DA’s Office will probably drop the charges.
“I think re-trying the case, in the current climate, and given the state of the evidence, it would be difficult to prevail and possibly humiliating for the prosecutors.”
The controversy in Moses’ case is surrounding the tactics of former NYPD homicide Detective Louis Scarcella, who forced a confession out of Moses, according to defense attorneys. That false confession was one of the key pieces of evidence used to convict Moses of murder.
“With each case that exposes [Scarcella’s] misconduct it makes the next case easier,” said Kuby, who has been involved in numerous wrongful-conviction cases. “The notion that Det. Louis Scarcella is entitled to any first name besides ‘Disgraced’ has been utterly dissipated. Everyone knows his name is Disgraced Louis Scarcella. The judicial system can’t trust any evidence that he’s had his paws on.”
In her decision, Riviezzo said that because the confession wasn’t reliable, and because the other witnesses were unreliable then, and unreliable now, and the only real evidence was that confession the conviction had to be overturned. She wrote, had the jury been informed of Scarcella’s propensity to engage in misconduct, they may have ruled differently.
Prosecutors have until Feb. 16 to decide whether or not to retry Moses for the Aug. 27, 1995 shooting that led to the death of 4-year-old Shamone Johnson. Scarcella’s questionable tactics have now been a factor in 12 overturned convictions since 2013.
Despite the fact that they may still try his client, Kuby did credit the Brooklyn DA’s Office for being fair during the determination of this case.
“In Sunny’s case they were open, honest, transparent, collaborating, shared information, good or bad, and ultimately a judge decided this case which is sometimes the way it has to go,” Kuby said.
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