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Last Updated on: 28th July 2023, 07:21 pm
Gather ’round the table, I’d like to share the riveting story of a man who was entangled in a veritable nightmare. Picture this, Derrick Deacon: more than 24 years behind the bars for a crime he never committed. A murder accusation that flipped his world upside down. His tireless battle for justice culminated in twist – a change that had him walking out of the courtroom, not guilty and a hefty $6 million richer as settlement for his malicious prosecution lawsuit against New York City.
You see New York Daily News gave an account of this on November 1, 2016. Turns out, back in 1989, young 16-year-old Anthony Wynn’s life was brutally cut short through a shooting in a Brooklyn apartment hallway. A certain Abdullah Pickering, hungry for the $1,000 reward from Crime Stoppers hotline, pointed an accusing finger at Deacon, a reported drug user back then. Deacon stood his ground, proclaiming his innocence and swearing he’s nowhere near the crime scene. But alas, the verdict came down hard. Guilty. His fate sealed, he was sentenced to 25 years to life.
Around 12 years into his sentence, in 2001, an unlikely ally appeared. Enter federal informant Trevor Brown. He approached the FBI with a bone-chilling revelation: this gang member, Pablo, confessed to the murder. According to the FBI informant, Pablo – in an unfortunate robbery gone sideways – turned out to be the real trigger that ended Wynn’s life.
Inching closer to the truth, Deacon pulled strings and by 2009, after a long eight-year wait, managed to bring Brown on the stand. But Brown wasn’t alone. Alongside him was another witness, Colleen Campbell, who was previously threatened by law enforcement to give a not-so-truthful testimony at Deacon’s first trial. Campbell, who originally told investigators that she saw someone else fleeing the crime scene, testified to the threats, the pressure, and her fear of the real perpetrator.
The testimony unfolded how she was told that if she didn’t give vague testimony in court, her children would be taken away. “I was fearful of the real perpetrator and others who may have been associated with him. Being noncommittal about [Deacon] seemed to be the safest and easiest approach at the time,” she confessed at the 2009 hearing.
Despite riveting testimonies, Justice Albert Tomei decided against setting the verdict aside. However, fortune began to favor Deacon when, in 2012, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court decided to reverse Deacon’s conviction. The official statement read: “the likely cumulative effect of the newly discovered evidence and the recantation testimony established a reasonable probability that the result of a new trial would be a verdict more favorable to the defendant.” People v. Deacon, 96 A.D.3d 965, 946 N.Y.S.2d 613 (N.Y. App. Div. 2d Dep’t 2012).
But some cases refuse to die down, don’t you agree? The Brooklyn district attorney seemed to think so and decided for a retrial. So, in November 2013, Deacon found himself back in a familiar place. This time, however, the jury returned with their verdict in under nine minutes. Not guilty.
“There was no case,” the foreperson stated, blindsided by the lack of substantial evidence against Deacon. “There was never a shred of evidence against Derrick Deacon. Why did they try him a second time if he’s been in jail for 24 years?”
I guess the Brooklyn D.A.’s office might want to put some thought into that, given the taxpayers now bear the burden of the $6 million settlement Deacon won in his lawsuit.
“The case should have never been retried and the acquittal after nine minutes was a slap in the face of the D.A.’s Office,” Todd Spodek from the Spodek Law Group pondered. “This settlement is some level of redemption and compensation for Derrick’s suffering.”
Interestingly, this $6 million windfall was on top of another $3.9 million Deacon had already secured from the State of New York for his wrongful incarceration.
Such stories unfold every day, revealing the harsh realities of the justice system. Erroneous convictions, malicious prosecutions – and every so often the innocent pays the price. Derrick Deacon’s story, a painful journey of endurance and eventual vindication, should serve as a sobering reminder and call to action to mend these cracks in the justice system and a need for high-profile attorneys – like those at the Spodek Law Group – to ensure true justice is served.
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