UNITED STATES NEWS

Friends imprisoned for decades cleared of 1987 New Year’s killing in Times Square

Feb 1, 2024, 3:27 PM | Updated: 9:26 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — In the early hours of New Year’s Day in 1987, a French tourist was mugged while walking with his wife through Times Square. The man, 71-year-old Jean Casse, struck his head on the pavement. He was pronounced dead soon after.

Within days, police hauled in a pair of young Brooklyn residents, 19-year-old Eric Smokes and 16-year-old David Warren, charging them with killing Casse. While both maintained their innocence, they were convicted at trial of murder and sent to prison for decades.

Nearly 40 years later, a New York City judge and a Manhattan prosecutor have sided with the men, now in their 50s. On Wednesday, years after a judge first denied their motions, their convictions were overturned after prosecutors said they uncovered evidence that police pressured witnesses.

“Eric Smokes and David Warren lost decades of their life to an unjust conviction,” Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, said in a statement. “I am inspired by the unyielding advocacy of Mr. Smokes and Mr. Warren and hope that today’s decision can finally bring them a measure of comfort and justice.”

Smokes was released from prison on parole in 2011 after serving 24 years. Warren served 20 years before his release on parole in 2007.

The two men, who grew up together and described themselves as brothers, spent years trying to clear their name. No DNA evidence linked them to the crime. The four witnesses who testified at the trial were all teenagers — some of whom later said they were pressured by police and even threatened with arrest if they did not pin the killing on Smokes and Warren.

But when the two men brought a motion to vacate the convictions in 2017, the effort was opposed by Judge Stephen Antignani and the Manhattan district attorney’s office, then led by Cyrus Vance.

Christie Keenan, an assistant district attorney, questioned the credibility of the recanted witness statements. In a 2020 ruling, Antignani denied their motion, finding the men had “failed to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that it is highly probable that they are innocent.”

Another investigation was opened in 2022 under Bragg — one that prosecutors said uncovered “significant new evidence,” including transcripts showing the teenage witnesses were pressured by police and that at least one of them was likely not in the vicinity of the crime.

With the new evidence in place, Antignani agreed to vacate the convictions this week.

Jay Henning, an attorney for the two men, said his clients were thrilled to see their names cleared. But, he added, the finding was long overdue.

“This was a case of tunnel vision riddled with police and prosecutorial misconduct,” Henning said. “This should’ve been done a while ago.”

United States News

A calendar shows the month of February, including leap day, Feb. 29, on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, in S...

Associated Press

Have a look at the whos, whats and whens of leap year through time

NEW YORK (AP) — Leap year. It’s a delight for the calendar and math nerds among us. So how did it all begin and why? Have a look at some of the numbers, history and lore behind the (not quite) every four year phenom that adds a 29th day to February. BY THE NUMBERS The […]

3 hours ago

FILE - Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim greets supporters outside Central High School on the day of the r...

Associated Press

Fatigue and frustration as final do-over mayoral election looms in Connecticut’s largest city

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — It’s been nearly four months since a judge tossed out the results of a Democratic mayoral primary in Connecticut’s largest city due to allegations of ballot stuffing, sending voters repeatedly back to the polls and thrusting Bridgeport into an unflattering national spotlight. Many frustrated local voters say they just want it […]

3 hours ago

Homes are seen on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in the southwest Portland, Ore., suburb of Beaverton. Th...

Associated Press

A housing shortage is testing Oregon’s pioneering land use law. Lawmakers are poised to tweak it

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A severe lack of affordable housing has prompted Oregon lawmakers to consider chipping away at a 1970s law that made the state a national leader in leveraging land use policy to prevent suburban sprawl and conserve nature and agriculture. The so-called urban growth boundary, a sacred cow of Oregon’s liberal politics, […]

3 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump hugs and kisses the American flag a...

Associated Press

Trump calls himself a ‘proud political dissident’ in CPAC speech

In a CPAC speech, Trump painted an apocalyptic vision of the future if President Joe Biden wins again as the two prepare for a rematch.

7 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures to the audience after spea...

Associated Press

Donald Trump wins South Carolina GOP primary, beating Nikki Haley in her home state

Trump has now swept every contest that counted for Republican delegates, with wins already in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Why AP called South Carolina for Trump: Race call explained

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press declared Donald Trump the winner of the South Carolina primary as soon as polls closed on Saturday. The race call was based on a comprehensive survey of South Carolina Republican primary voters that showed him defeating Nikki Haley by wide margins in her home state. Declaring a winner as […]

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Friends imprisoned for decades cleared of 1987 New Year’s killing in Times Square