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N.Y. man released from prison after serving 17 years for a crime he did not commit

By Frederick H. Lowe -NorthStar News & Analysis | | Last updated: Jun 12, 2014 - 4:34:54 PM

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Witness who testifi ed against him was in jail when the crime occurred

Roger Logan, who served 17 years in prison for murder, was released June 3 after it was learned that a woman who claimed she witnessed the crime was actually in jail when the homicide occurred, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office announced.

“The witness could not have made those observations because she was incarcerated,” Mark Hale, a Brooklyn, N.Y., prosecutor, said in court, according to news reports. “Mr. Logan’s lawyer did not and could not have known this.”

Mr. Logan, now 53, was sentenced to 25 years to life for the 1997 shooting death of Sherwin Gibbons, who lived in Bedford Stuyvesant. The two argued after a dice game. Law enforcement officials held Mr. Logan in jail following his arrest and throughout his trial, the D.A.’s office said in a statement.

Since taking office, Kenneth P. Thompson, the Brooklyn District Attorney, has established a Conviction Review Unit, which is headed by Harvard Law Professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. The unit has vacated seven convictions, and 11 convictions have been upheld.

The Brooklyn DA’s office is paying close attention to 50 to 57 cases investigated by retired New York City Police Detective Louis Scarcella. The office is investigating a total of 90 cases that might be wrongful convictions.  

District Attorney Thompson
In May, Mr. Thompson vacated the convictions of three half-brothers for two separate murders based on the testimony of Teresa Gomez, a drug addict, who claimed to have witnessed both murders although she consistently got the facts wrong. Ms. Gomez, who is now dead, was a witness presented by Det. Scarcella, who has denied any wrongdoing.

According to news reports, Mr. Logan contacted Mr. Sullivan’s office, claiming Det. Scarcella had framed him. The Conviction Review Unit and an Independent Review Panel investigated Mr. Logan’s allegations before recommending that a judge vacate the murder conviction and release him.

Although Det. Scarcella has not been involved in all the cases being investigated, there are many others that are being investigated for possible wrongful convictions.  

In April, District Attorney Thompson vacated the conviction of Jonathan Fleming, who spent 25 years in prison, for a murder that occurred in New York while he was on a family vacation at Disney World in Florida.

Mr. Thompson said he ordered Mr. Logan’s murder conviction vacated in the interest of justice.

“In the interest of justice, I have asked the court to vacate the murder conviction of Roger Logan,” District Attorney Thompson said. “After a thorough review of the case by my Conviction Review Unit and Independent Review Panel, I have concluded that Mr. Logan’s conviction should not stand. I am pleased that Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Matthew D’Emic has agreed with my recommendation and that Roger Logan was released today.”