Former Black Veteran’s Wrongful Murder Conviction Highlights Systemic Racism

Black Local and National News

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Photo: Innocence ProjectOn November 19th, Jaythan Kendrick walked free after 25 years of wrongful conviction for a murder in Queens, New York. Judge Joseph Zayas vacated his 1995 murder conviction based on newly discovered DNA evidence and newly discovered witnesses that support Mr. Kendrick’s long-standing claim of innocence.Mr. Kendrick was arrested for the murder of a 70-year old woman who was stabbed during a robbery while walking through the Ravenswood Houses in Queens in November 1994.At trial, the prosecution’s primary evidence was testimony from two witnesses — a 10-year-old boy who saw the crime from his third-floor apartment over 100 feet away, and a man who initially claimed he had not seen the suspect but later changed his statement to corroborate law enforcement’s theory that Mr. Kendrick was the assailant. No physical evidence linked Mr. Kendrick to the crime.Mr. Kendrick is represented by Susan Friedman and Vanessa Potkin of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; Ross Firsenbaum, Charles Bridge and Brett Atanasio of WilmerHale; and Janet Carter. Over the past eight months, the Innocence Project and WilmerHale worked collaboratively with the Queens District Attorney’s Office in the reinvestigation of Mr. Kendrick’s case,...