Justice denied for Brooklyn man viciously beaten and his accuser
An Orthodox Jewish man who was cleared by a higher court for the gang assault against a gay black man believes a “corrupt” criminal justice system denied both him and the victim justice.
A week after the Second Department Appellate Division tossed Mayer Herskovic’s gang assault conviction, Brooklyn prosecutors announced on Thursday that they are unable to fight their decision.
“The prosecutor’s office is not allowed to appeal … it’ll be double jeopardy,” said Donna Aldea, the appellate attorney for Herskovic.
Herskovic was one of five Orthodox Jewish men — some members of a Jewish community watch group called Shomrim — arrested months after Taj Patterson was brutally beaten on a Williamsburg street in December 2013. Three years later, Herskovic was the sole defendant left in the indictment to fight the charges at a non-jury trial.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun presided, convicted and sentenced Herskovic in March 2017 to four years in prison.
Herskovic remained out on $150,000 bond as Aldea appealed the conviction. The last five years for Herskovic were turned upside down.
“Going through this, my health changed, [I spent] a lot of money for lawyers, marriage got ruined, job, everything, basically everything. But I’m happy to finally finish this chapter,” Herskovic said outside of court with his trial attorney Israel Fried standing nearby.
On Oct. 10, Aldea learned she successfully appealed the conviction using the botched scientific evidence prosecutors used against her client in their case.
“I am happy that justice got served by me finally, but I will say I really feel for Taj Patterson, because he did not get justice,” said Herskovic.
The key evidence that placed Herskovic at the scene of the crime was a slither of DNA found on the surface of Patterson’s sneaker that was thrown onto the roof of a building during the attack.
“We’re disappointed the city continues to slam doors in Mr. Patterson’s face, but we are optimistic our civil action will shine a light on the cozy relationship between the city and the Shomrim,” said Andrew Stoll, a civil lawsuit lawyer for Patterson.
The appellate judges unanimously agreed that the evidence from the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office (OCME) which “tweaked the protocols” of DNA testing was questionable to uphold a conviction.
“I don’t feel the system here works,” said Herskovic. “There is corruption over here, obviously when you see a clear video of somebody and you go after ‘tweaked protocols,’ obviously there is corruption. There is corruption in the DA’s office, in the OCME’s office and in the city and the NYPD.”
All the evidence related to Herskovic — DNA, fingerprints and case file — were ordered by Justice Chun to be destroyed.
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