A Guyanese who spent three decades in prison in New York on a wrongful rape and robbery conviction is heading home to Brooklyn for Christmas.
On Wednesday, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office said it moved to vacate the conviction of 47 year-old, Mark Denny, and dismiss the indictment after an investigation revealed faulty witness identification.
Later in the day, Denny appeared before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Matthew D’Emic, who made his exoneration official.
After the decree, it said Denny smiled and waved to his family and friends who filled the court gallery.
“I’m overwhelmed thinking of what I’ll do next to get my life back on track,” he said after walking out of the courthouse an innocent man.
“I have no ill feelings towards the victim,” he added. “Going to prison was a traumatic experience mentally. There are a lot of people in my position. I appreciate everyone for all they have done for me.”
Denny was the 24th person to have his conviction vacated by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said his review team examined evidence and interviewed witnesses, as well as Denny’s co-defendants in the case.
“After a lengthy and extensive investigation into this horrific case, I have concluded that the cause of justice requires that we vacate the conviction of Mr Denny,” Gonzalez said in a statement.
Denny was exonerated with the help of the Innocence Project, which had been working on his case since 2009.
Denny was accused with three other defendants of a late-night gunpoint robbery and rape at a Burger King in Kensington section of Brooklyn on December 20, 1987.
The four were accused of forcing their way into the restaurant after closing and holding two employees — an 18-year-old woman and a male — hostage.
They ordered the two employees to undress, took US$3,000 from a safe, and then raped and sodomised the woman in a back room.
It said the victim had a blindfold over her eyes during a portion of the attack and may have passed out.
Denny became a suspect in March 1988 after he was busted two months earlier for gun possession. According to reports, he was arrested in a car with the three other defendants, who were wanted for robbing a Manhattan Burger King.