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Monday, January 17, 2011

Innocent Young Man Serves 16 Years Before Being Freed


Innocent Man Spent 16 Years in Prison.


Thursday, July 5th 2007, 4:00 AM

A report on the wrongful murder conviction of a Westchester man who spent 16 years in prison sharply criticized police and prosecutors in the case.

The report by a panel of judges and criminal lawyers said police and prosecutors fixed on the then-schoolboy suspect as the killer long before they should have and refused to be dissuaded by DNA and other evidence.

And once he was imprisoned, former Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro repeatedly refused his requests for new tests on the crime scene DNA, extending his unwarranted imprisonment, the report says.

The report, requested by current Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore, examines the case of Jeffrey Deskovic, who was convicted in 1990 of raping and killing a high school classmate.

Deskovic, now 34, was cleared and released last year after DiFiore agreed to run the crime scene DNA through the system and came up with a match to a man already imprisoned for murder; that man confessed.

The report, while finding no malice or illegality, sharply criticizes the prosecution of Deskovic on several grounds, especially the "tunnel vision" that kept investigators from looking beyond Deskovic.

It said detectives got a false confession by interrogating Deskovic "in a manner that improperly exploited his youth, naivete and psychological vulnerability." They then stopped investigating.

Prosecutors took the case to a grand jury before the DNA evidence was in, and when it came in they "developed strained and shifting theories to explain that evidence away," the report said.

The defense did not capitalize on the DNA evidence, the report said, and ( failed to introduce evidence that might have helped jurors understand why Deskovic would confess to a crime he did not commit.)

"The entire system failed Mr. Deskovic," DiFiore said, "the police, the prosecutors, his defense attorneys, and of course we can never ever bring those years back to Mr. Deskovic."

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