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NYLJ: Judge Tosses Conviction in 1990 NYC Killing of Tourist

"Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Eduardo Padro denied Johnny Hincapie's motion to vacate his conviction on the grounds of actual innocence, but vacated his conviction on the basis of new evidence. Hincapie's relatives, who were in the courtroom, erupted into cheers and began to cry."

On September 2, 1990, Watkins was killed at twenty-two years old. Standing trial for the murder, Defendant Johnny Hincapie, 18 years old without a criminal history, travelled with a large group of teenagers to Roseland. Part of that group of teenagers, including Anderson, engaged in crime/a robbery that evening. Upon finding that Hincapie may have been involved, the police questioned Hincapie and he confessed.

At trial (seperated under Bruton because of the number of codefendants), Hincapie's confessions served as the cheif evidence against him. He did not testify. Two experts testified that not only did Hancapie have a learning disability but he had difficulty with the English language. Defense counsel argued that Hincapie was sucesptible to suggestion and manipulated by police detectives into making a false confession. He was found guilty. After the conviction, a number of appeals followed. Since the conviction, new evidence in the form of testimony was offerred in the instant matter.

This Court evaluated new evidence and whether there was true innocence in this case, finding that the "credible testimony of [the witnesses in the instant matter show] that Johnny Hincapie was not present on the subway platform during the time of the actual robbery, combined with Hincapie's own testimony to the same facts, raises a real doubt as to whether the defendant was a participant in the crime." Indeed, the Court noted that the most compelling evidence was Mr. Hincapie's repudiated confessions, confessions whihch were recanted the moment he first met with his attorney.

Although the court did not release Mr. Hincapie, the Court ordered a new trial. This evidence can be used to free the Defendant for a crime of which it appears he did not commit.

The New York Law Journal Article can be accessed here:"

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