99-year-old man released after prosecution admits falsely singled him out from 1998 lineup

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A New Orleans man sentenced to 99 years in prison in 2000 was released after more than two decades behind bars when his prosecutor finally admitted he made up the claim for armed robbery – and randomly selected the future inmate from a lineup .

Jermaine Hudson, 42, was released Friday – just a day after his prosecutor reported to District Attorney Jason Williams of Louisiana’s Orleans Parish to admit he made up the crime, NOLA.com reported

“For the last twenty years since this has happened, I have been tortured by the lie I have told,” he said in an affidavit Thursday.

During Hudson’s trial in March 2000, the unnamed prosecutor broke down in tears. To Hudson, it was the sight of a man agonized over making a false accusation. Jurors saw it differently and voted 10-2 to convict him of armed robbery.

Judge Julian Parker sentenced him to 99 years in prison, and for the next two decades, Hudson’s appeal was dismissed.

Hudson’s case was one of 22 prosecutors recently moved to clear the convictions. He agreed to plead guilty to a robbery and receive a time sentence served in a hearing before Judge Nandi Campbell.

Jermaine Hudson, right, with his fiancé, Latinya Darensbourg, in a photo from the Promise of Justice Initiative.  The New Orleans man was sentenced to 99 years in prison and released after more than two decades after the person who charged him with armed robbery overturned the claim and said he lied when he pulled Hudson from a lineup.  The man now says he made up the robbery because he did not want to admit that he spent the money on drugs.  Hudson was released on Friday

Jermaine Hudson, right, with his fiancé, Latinya Darensbourg, in a photo from the Promise of Justice Initiative. The New Orleans man was sentenced to 99 years in prison and released after more than two decades after the person who charged him with armed robbery overturned the claim and said he lied when he pulled Hudson from a lineup. The man now says he made up the robbery because he did not want to admit that he spent the money on drugs. Hudson was released on Friday

While former Orleans parish prosecutor Leon Cannizzaro often viewed the recall of witnesses with suspicion, prosecutors under Williams dismissed Hudson’s charge in record time.

On March 1, 1999, Hudson’s prosecutor, then 18, told his father that while he was riding his bicycle home from work, he had been robbed at gunpoint with cash and his St. Christopher medal. The father called the police, who presented the prosecution with a photographic setup a month later. The prosecution chose Hudson, who lived in the area.

Hudson previously pleaded guilty to armed robbery at the age of 16, but in 1999, he worked in a supermarket, taking care of his 10-month-old 2-week-old daughters.

Retired Judge Julian Parker, who sentenced Jermaine Hudson to 99 years in prison for an armed robbery conviction by a jury with a shared verdict of 10-2

Retired Judge Julian Parker, who sentenced Jermaine Hudson to 99 years in prison for an armed robbery conviction by a jury with a shared verdict of 10-2

Retired Judge Julian Parker, who sentenced Jermaine Hudson to 99 years in prison for an armed robbery conviction by a jury with a shared verdict of 10-2

A district attorney offered Hudson a plea for a five-year sentence, but he remembers saying, “I’m not going to take time for something I didn’t do.”

Nevertheless, he was convicted by a non-unanimous decision by the jury.

In other states, a split jury would not have resulted in a conviction, but Louisiana and Oregon allowed non-unanimous convictions until last year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that split sentences were unconstitutional. The decision currently only applies to pending appeals cases, but after Williams took office on Jan. 11, he applied the change to older cases, such as Hudson’s conviction.

“Thank God for sending Mr. Williams,” Hudson said Monday. “He’s just one of those men God has sent on a mission, and he’s listening. He really listens. ‘

After Hudson agreed to the reduced sentence, his prosecutor came forward a day later.

The man now says he lied about the robbery because he did not want to admit that he spent the money on drugs. He threw out the St. Christopher Medal he said was taken in the imaginary robbery and randomly picked Hudson from the line-up, he said.

Leon Cannizzaro, former prosecutor at the Orléans parish, speaks at a news conference in New Orleans in May 2014. Cannizzaro, who prosecuted Hudson, often viewed the recall of witnesses with suspicion.  He fought to uphold convictions even after witnesses renounced testimony and prosecuted several of them for perjury

Leon Cannizzaro, former prosecutor at the Orléans parish, speaks at a news conference in New Orleans in May 2014. Cannizzaro, who prosecuted Hudson, often viewed the recall of witnesses with suspicion.  He fought to uphold convictions even after witnesses renounced testimony and prosecuted several of them for perjury

Leon Cannizzaro, former prosecutor at the Orléans parish, speaks at a news conference in New Orleans in May 2014. Cannizzaro, who prosecuted Hudson, often viewed the recall of witnesses with suspicion. He fought to uphold convictions even after witnesses renounced testimony and prosecuted several of them for perjury

Orleans district attorney Jason Williams dismissed the charge of armed robbery against Jermaine Hudson in record time.  The U.S. Supreme Court found divided sentences unconstitutional last year, and Williams decided to apply the amendment to older cases such as Hudson's conviction.

Orleans district attorney Jason Williams dismissed the charge of armed robbery against Jermaine Hudson in record time.  The U.S. Supreme Court found divided sentences unconstitutional last year, and Williams decided to apply the amendment to older cases such as Hudson's conviction.

Judge Nandi Campbell, who oversaw a hearing to reduce Hudson's sentence to time served

Judge Nandi Campbell, who oversaw a hearing to reduce Hudson's sentence to time served

Orleans district attorney Jason Williams (left) dismissed the charge of armed robbery against Jermaine Hudson in record time. Judge Nandi Campbell, (right) who oversaw a hearing to reduce Hudson’s sentence to time served

The prosecution’s substance abuse problems continued and he is currently in rehab.

Louisiana law says that revocations should be treated with “ the greatest suspicion, ” in part because of the danger that a defendant’s acquaintances will put pressure on witnesses. Cannizzaro, the prosecutor who prosecuted Hudson, fought to uphold convictions even after witnesses recanted and several prosecuted for perjury.

Still, Hudson says he was willing to plead guilty to get out of prison. He and his lawyer, Jamila Johnson of the Promise of Justice Initiative, said no one in the defense camp approached the prosecution.

Williams’s office agreed to grant immunity to the revoking prosecutor and decided to put the affidavit on the court file the next day.

Emily Maw, chief of the Orleans Parish district attorney, said that everything the alleged victim is saying now is “completely consistent with the case.” In other words, prosecutors interviewed an alibi witness for Hudson in 1999, but don’t believe her.

The district attorney’s office then moved to dismiss Hudson’s charges.

While many of the 22 shared jury convictions vacated last month are expected to end in settlement agreements, Maw’s civil rights department is judging others for errors during or before trial.

Hudson is now catching up with his fiancé, Latinya Darensbourg, and hugs the daughter he barely knew when he went to jail and hopes to find work as a plumber.

“Thank God it’s finally over,” Hudson said. Thank God for revealing the truth. I forgive the man and pray that he will get his life back on track. ‘