A man who spent 17 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit wept and clutched the hands of the judge who exonerated him.
41-year-old John Bunn, from Brooklyn, New York, was only 14-years-old when he was wrongly arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
He’d always maintained his innocence, in relation to the shooting of an off-duty correction officer, Rolando Neischer, and the attempted murder of his partner, Robert Crosson in Crown Heights in 1991.
On Tuesday morning, (May 15), Bunn was exonerated, leaving him in tears as seen in the incredible video below:
Bunn and another teenager, Rosean Hargrave, were accused of forcing the officers out of their car before shooting them and stealing the vehicle.
Surviving the incident, Crosson became the only witness in the case.
Having spent years trying to clear his name, working with attorneys from the Exoneration Initiative, Bunn was paroled in 2009.
His murder conviction was tossed out in 2016 and earlier this week, he was officially exonerated of the charge.
After it was revealed Louis Scarcella – the lead detective on the case – used ‘false and misleading practices’ while he was with the New York Police Department (NYPD), Bunn’s claims of innocence were listened to.
Now retired, Scarcella was accused of manipulating witnesses, giving misleading testimony and coercing confessions.
From the very beginning of the trial, Bunn’s legal team said there were issues with the case as Crosson once described the suspects as being ‘light-skinned men in their 20’s. Also, fingerprints found on the scene didn’t belong to the teenager.
As reported by The New York Daily News, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice ShawnDya Simpson told Bunn in court:
I am more than emotional about this day. You were 14 at the time. This shouldn’t have ever happened.
Move forward. Keep me posted.
This case was tried,… a jury was picked, testimony was given and it concluded all in one day. I don’t consider that justice at all.
As he held onto the hands of Simpson in court, an emotional Bunn said:
They won’t admit I’m an innocent man. I want y’all to know that y’all convicted and had the wrong man in prison.
Y’all had the wrong man this whole time and you have (someone) out there running free and y’all had no right to do what you did.
I want to say thank you your honour because it’s been 27 years I’ve been fighting for my life.
I don’t know how I made it this far, but I believe I am here for a purpose.
I just want to be proven innocent… I didn’t want to be in the dark side of the shadows they (the prosecutors) tried to put me.
Following his release on parole in 2009, Bunn went on to find the nonprofit organisation AVoice4TheUnheard, which aims ‘to not let any of America’s 2,200,000 prisoners to feel neglected or underrepresented’.
Fellow charged teenager, Hargrave, has also been exonerated in the crime. On Monday, (May 14), a judge told him his murder conviction had been tossed out.
He’d spent 24 years in prison.
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Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.