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Judges overturn 1993 Queens man’s murder conviction after decade-long fight to clear his name: ‘He never wavered’


After serving 26 years behind bars for the murder of his estranged wife, a crime he long claimed he did not commit, Michael Robinson has finally cleared his name.

Robinson, 56, was convicted of murder in 1993 for the murder of home health aide Gwendolyn Samuels, who was killed at the residence of an elderly woman she worked for.

On Wednesday, that conviction was overturned in the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court when the judges declared that “there was a reasonable probability that the verdict would have been more favorable to the defendant” if DNA evidence had been admitted at the trial. judgment.

During initial proceedings, Robinson’s defense attorneys argued that he was with his family and could not have killed Samuels. They implicated the woman’s then-boyfriend, who was 19 and had just found out that his girlfriend was pregnant with her child.

The conviction was based on eyewitness testimony from Samuels’ patient, 88-year-old Alveina Marchon, who had significant vision problems, including cataracts in both eyes, Robinson’s attorney, Harold Ferguson, said Wednesday.

The jury returned three separate times without remedy, but in 1994, Robinson, then 27, was behind bars in an Orange County, New York prison, where he would remain until 2019.

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“Even in his appearances before the parole board he never wavered,” Fergson told the Daily News. “He has never hesitated to say ‘I am innocent’.”

In prison, Robinson filed several motions in federal and state courts, but all were denied. He also paid and passed a polygraph test.

Michael Robinson, fourth from left, poses with Legal Aid Society (L-R) attorneys Terry Rosenblatt, supervising attorney for the DNA Unit, Jenny Cheung, staff attorney for the DNA Unit, Jessica Goldwaithe, staff attorney for the DNA unit and Harold Ferguson, staff attorney.  office of criminal appeals, Friday, October 25, 2019 in Manhattan, New York.

In 2013, Robinson, who once aspired to be a police officer, filed a motion requesting post-conviction DNA testing of blood samples recovered from the crime scene and stains that were on Samuels’ sweater. Once again, his motion was denied.

After many hearings, it was determined that the city’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was in possession of verifiable DNA under Samuels’ fingernails, which was 78.1 trillion times more likely to belong to someone other than Robinson.

Following Wednesday’s ruling, the matter has been sent to the Queens County Supreme Court, with the district attorney’s office to determine whether to retry Robinson.

For now, he’s enjoying the ruling.

“He’s ecstatic,” Ferguson said. “It’s something he’s been waiting for thirty years. He is excited beyond belief.”

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