Wrongly convicted man freed after 28 years
NEW YORK — Nearly three decades into a prison sentence he began as a teenager, a New York man who had been championed by boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter walked free Wednesday because a judge vacated his murder conviction at a prosecutor’s request.
David McCallum was 16 years old in 1986 when a jury in Brooklyn found him and Willie Stuckey Jr. guilty of kidnapping and murdering Nathan Blenner. McCallum, now 45, had been in a state prison since. Stuckey, whose conviction was quashed Wednesday, died in prison in 2001.
After reviewing their cases, Ken Thompson, who became Brooklyn’s district attorney in January, asked Judge Matthew D’Emic to quash the convictions, saying both men’s confessions were false and contradicted by evidence.
Sitting beside Stuckey’s mother, McCallum began sobbing, resting his head on a table, as the judge told him he and Stuckey were exonerated. Minutes later, McCallum, who was denied parole for insisting he was innocent, walked free and embraced his mother.
“I’m very, very happy but very, very sad at the same time, because this situation in some ways could have been avoided,” McCallum, dressed in a khaki jacket and a pair of beaten black leather shoes, told reporters gathered at the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.
He said he was not bitter but called the justice system “broken” and said he planned to speak out on the issue of wrongful convictions.
Rubin Carter, the former professional boxer who spent 19 years in prison on what was later ruled a wrongful murder conviction, became an advocate for McCallum, and before his death in April, said it was his final wish that McCallum be released.
Thompson said “not a single piece of evidence” linked the two men to the crime.