Thursday, 17 May 2018
Man wrongly jailed at 14 for the 1991 murder of a corrections officer breaks down in court as he's exonerated after 27 years
John Bunn, who was wrongfully convicted of the murder of a corrections officer when he was just 14-years-old, has been exonerated after 27 years, 17 of which was spent in prison. Jun Bunn's case was tried by a jury, testimony was given, and he was then convicted all in one day. All these years he maintained his innocence but that didn't stop him from spending 17 years in prison.
As he was exonerated on Tuesday, tears flowed down his face and he railed about the crooked process that stole 27 years of his life.
"They won't admit I'm an innocent man," said the emotional Bunn, now 41, as he clutched the hands of his lawyers in a Brooklyn courtroom.
"Y'all had the wrong man this whole time and you have (someone) out there running free and y'all had no right to do what you did."
John Bunn was convicted in the Crown Heights murder of Rolando Neischer in 1991. He was convicted based on tainted evidence produced by ex-Detective Louis Scarcella. Bunn was paroled seven years earlier after spending 17 years behind bars. He had been out of prison on parole for more than a decade, and in 2016 he successfully fought for a new trial.
Defense lawyers claim Bunn and a second man were framed for the killing.
"There were problems with this case that were very obvious," said defense lawyer Glenn Garber, standing with Bunn and co-counsel Rebecca Freeman. "There was no probable cause to make an arrest."
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Shawn'Dya Simpson tossed Bunn's conviction in November 2016 and ordered a new trial after an evidentiary hearing exposed Scarcella's actions. At his court hearing, the Brooklyn district attorney's office simply said it was not able to proceed with the case and would not retry Bunn for the murder. That lead to his full exoneration
After prosecutors agreed on Tuesday to dismiss the charges against John Bunn, Simpson shared a brief conversation with Bunn and his mother, Maureen, at the bench.
The judge encouraged Bunn: "Move forward. Keep me posted."
Speaking Tuesday, Simpson noted that Bunn was only 14 when he was arrested and jailed in the Crown Heights murder of Rolando Neischer.
Simpson's voice cracked as she said: "I am more than emotional about this day. You were 14 at the time. This shouldn't have ever happened."
Bunn and Rosean Hargrave, then 16, were placed in a photo array created by Scarcella for Robert Crosson — who survived the shooting to become the sole eyewitness, authorities said. Simpson, during the hearing, made a point of questioning the legal process that convicted Bunn and Hargrave.
Simpson said: "This case was tried..., a jury was picked, testimony was given and it concluded all in one day. I don't consider that justice at all."
Many of Scarcella's cases have been reinvestigated after corruption allegations. A day before Bunn was exonerated, Rosean Hargrave, who had spent 24 years in prison for that case, had his Scarcella-linked murder indictment dismissed.
Bunn said he was looking forward to going on with his life.
"I don't know how I made it this far, but I believe I am here for a purpose," said Bunn, who founded a nonprofit organization called AVoice4TheUnheard.org.
"I just want to be proven innocent. . . . I didn't want to be in the dark side of the shadows they tried to put me."