‘Longest Known Wrongful Conviction’ Is Here in the Hudson Valley
It was a busy morning in the Hudson Valley as the Westchester District Attorney met with a New York State Supreme court judge to attempt to vacate a conviction from nearly 50 years ago.
In partnership with the Innocence Project, District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah (below) says that if successful, the decision would mark "the longest known [conviction] to be overturned by DNA evidence in U.S. history".
Wrongful Conviction in Westchester County, NY
At the center of the effort is 72-year-old Leonard Mack, who was convicted on rape charges in 1976. While Mack served seven years in a New York state prison for the crime, recent re-testing of DNA evidence not only concluded Mack was not the perpetrator, but it matched a known sex offender who later confessed to the crime.
Westchester, NY District Attorney Looks to Vacate Conviction
This was not the first time this conviction had been challenged, and multiple attempts by Mr. Mack to vacate the conviction in the 1980s were denied. A deeper look at the original investigation revealed more troubling facts as well. From the Innocence Project:
Mr. Mack's case had many of the hallmarks of a wrongful conviction, including multiple witness misidentifications... His courage and determination are why we now have indisputable scientific evidence that proves he is innocent. We are grateful that the Westchester County District Attorney's Conviction Review Unit investigated Mr. Mack's case and reached similar conclusions
The Innocence Project
The Innocence Project is an organization dedicated to freeing wrongfully-convicted people across the United States. As of publication, they report that 240 people have been released from prison thanks in part to their work. While Mr. Mack has been out of prison for 40 years, the Westchester County Attorney General and the Innocence Project are working to clear his criminal record.