Judge set to toss decades-old murder conviction Tuesday
The Brooklyn man in question allegedly confessed to now-disgraced Det. Scarcella.
A Brooklyn man who has been behind bars for more than 20 years will have his murder conviction overturned on Tuesday, after his lawyers argued that the confession secured in his case was coerced, the Brooklyn Eagle has learned.
Eliseo DeLeon will have his murder conviction overturned by Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Dena Douglas Tuesday, his lawyer, Cary London, confirmed to the Eagle. London declined to provide further comment for this story. When Douglas overturns the murder conviction, DeLeon will still be under indictment for murder and could be tried again by the Brooklyn district attorney. He could either be held on bail, remanded or released at that point.
DeLeon was convicted in 1996 of shooting and killing Fausto Cordero during an attempted robbery in Clinton Hill. He allegedly gave a confession at the 79th Precinct after the killing, for which Det. Louis Scarcella, his partner Det. Stephen Chmil and one other detective were present. DeLeon denies ever confessing and later refused to give a videotaped confession.
Scarcella worked for the NYPD in the ’80s and ’90s and was known as a closer of tough cases. But in the last 10 years, his work came under fire for forced confessions and falsified evidence. The Brooklyn district attorney’s Conviction Review Unit has overturned eight Scarcella-related murder convictions, though the CRU did not overturn DeLeon’s conviction.
“He was convicted on the basis of an alleged oral confession,” London said at a June hearing. “He didn’t make this confession. It was made up. He did not write it. He did not sign anything written. It was an oral confession allegedly given to Det. Scarcella and Det. Chmil.”
DeLeon filed his own motion from prison to have his verdict tossed and was granted a hearing based on it.
“Two of the detectives; Scarcella and Chmil are currently accused of falsifying evidence in hundreds of cases, and are now disgraced,” DeLeon wrote in the handwritten motion.
Judge Douglas has not yet issued her ruling in the case, so her reasoning for overturning the conviction was not immediately known.
Scarcella testified at DeLeon’s hearing in June, saying he did not remember being present at the precinct for the alleged confession, according to the New York Post.
DeLeon was identified by three different eyewitnesses, including the victim’s wife, who said she would never forget the face of the person who killed her husband. The eyewitnesses continue to stand by the identification. None of the witnesses have recanted.
At DeLeon’s 1996 sentencing, he admitted his guilt again, according to court records. “Well I ain’t really got much to say but I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to go there like I went there, your honor. If anything I could change about the family, I want them to forgive me or to — you know — they can hate me, but all I can say is sorry.”
Correction (9:39 a.m.): A previous version of this article said DeLeon would “walk free” when his conviction is overturned. That was incorrect. He will still be under indictment for murder and could be held on bail or remanded. The Eagle regrets the error.
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