Three males who every spent at the least 25 years behind bars for one in all New York City’s most notorious horrific crimes within the Nineteen Nineties had their convictions overturned Friday.
The trio had been teenagers after they allegedly confessed to disgraced former NYPD Detectives Louis Scarcella and Stephen Chmil that that they had fatally set subway clerk Harry Kaufman on hearth in his token sales space in 1995.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez mentioned in a press release that his workplace requested for the convictions to be vacated “due to the intense issues with the proof on which [they] are based mostly.’’
“I wasn’t an angel on the street. [But] like I informed the parole board, like I informed the choose at my sentencing, it wasn’t me,’’ mentioned one of many accused killers, Vincent Ellerbe, 44, to Brooklyn Judge Matthew D’Emic on Friday.
“For 25 years, I needed to look within the mirror figuring out that I’m in jail for one thing I had nothing to do with. Now folks have a look at me on the surface and say, ‘Oh, it wasn’t horrible,’” Ellerbe mentioned.
“The penitentiary does one in all two issues: It breaks you or turns you right into a monster simply to outlive, and I needed to develop into one thing that I’m not simply to outlive.”
Gonzalez mentioned the boys’s convictions needed to be tossed for “many causes,’’ together with “the problematic circumstances of the identifications, the myriad factual contradictions between the confessions and the proof recovered on the scene, and the fabric contradictions between the confessions themselves.”
Kaufman, a 50-year-old married dad of two, had been toiling in his sales space on the subway station at Kingston Avenue and Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant at 1:40 a.m. Nov. 26, 1995, when a person walked up and poured gasoline from a transparent plastic bottle into the coin slot, authorities mentioned.
Then as both the assailant or one in all his two obvious accomplices pulled out a match, Kaufman screamed, “Don’t mild it!” officers mentioned.
But the fiend lit the match and set the sales space on hearth, inflicting it to blow up and Kaufman to be despatched flying out.
He suffered third-degree burns on greater than 80% of his physique and died two weeks later.
The case quickly drew comparisons to a scene from the flick “Money Train,’’ which had come out in theaters 4 days earlier than the assault, though officers later mentioned there didn’t look like any connection.
Ellerbe had been paroled for the crime in 2020, whereas the opposite two males — Thomas Malik, 45, and James Irons, 44 — had been nonetheless behind bars when their sentences had been tossed.
Friday’s Brooklyn Supreme Court room was filled with the defendants’ kinfolk, lots of whom had been weeping through the 35-minute listening to.
“Based on the file made earlier than me this afternoon, the movement to vacate the defendants’ conviction … is granted, and the indictment is dismissed and sealed,’’ the choose mentioned.
When their convictions had been formally vacated, the three convicts went to hug their kinfolk.
The DA workplace’s Conviction Review Unit has helped overturn 33 convictions thus far — and Scarcella was concerned in 20 of them, mentioned Ron Kuby, who repped Ellerbe and Malik.
Chmil, who was concerned in a few of these different overturned circumstances, too, admitted at a 2019 hearing involving one other man’s conviction, “We used some questionable ways.’’
Still, each he and Scarcella have denied any wrongdoing. They didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark from The Post on Friday.
Additional reporting by Priscilla DeGregory and Kate Sheehy
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