Man, 42, sues New York State for $ 100 million after being released from prison for unlawful conviction
A 42-year-old man who was wrongly convicted of murder in 1995 and spent 15 years in prison after the real murderer confessed, sues the state of New York for $ 100 million.
Christian Pacheco was 19 years old when he was sentenced in 1996 to cut Lemuel Cruz’s throat in a bar fight in Brooklyn with members of the Latin Kings Gang.
Despite the fact that fellow gang member Melvin Garcia admitted the murder and was convicted of the same crime in 2004, Pacheco was to spend another 15 years in prison before his conviction was annulled on 12 February.
Pacheco, who was a free man for the first time in nearly 25 years, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to claim $ 100 million in New York State for the time he spent behind bars.
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Christian Pacheco, 42, spent nearly 25 years behind bars for a murder in 1995 when the real murderer admitted his guilt 16 years ago in 2004 and told the prosecutor Pacheco was innocent
Christian Pacheco convicted for the murder of Lemuel “Lenny” Cruz in 1995, is acquitted after 25 years of conviction by the Brooklyn DA office on 12 February
Christian Pacheco was arrested at the age of 18 after being found outside the Con Sabor Latino Lounge at Sunset Park, Brooklyn on December 2, 1995.
The police responded to a bar fight that broke out in the bar with members of the Latin Kings gangs after victim Lemuel Cruz bumped into one of the gang members while he was dancing.
Cruz’s throat was cut to death in the fight that was believed to be racially motivated. According to a report from the Conviction Review Unit (CRU) of the Brooklyn District Attorney Office, “Get the black guy, get the black guy” was heard before Cruz was attacked by the gang members.
Pacheco was also stabbed, although he claims that he had not started the fight and hurried to help Cruz. He had collapsed outside the site when the police arrived.
He was arrested, charged, convicted and convicted in less than a year for the murder of Cruz, based solely on the testimony of the bouncer of the bar, also a gang member, who identified him as the “throatslasher” but whose statements later turned out to be false to be .
Cruz’s blood was also found on his shirt.
Pacheco has always insisted that he was wrongly arrested by the police, and despite having received two pleadings, he maintained his innocence.
Two others were convicted of murder, but their conviction was destroyed in 2003 and 2005 respectively.
The former location of the Con Sabor Latino Lounge in Brooklyn that is now closed
Christian Pacheco celebrates with his lawyer Derek Sells after his conviction has been destroyed
Christian Pacheco’s family member celebrates his release on February 12 after 25 years
Further evidence of Pacheco’s innocence came as early as 1998, two years after his conviction, when two gang members named Melvin Garcia as the murderer as part of an ongoing investigation by the Eastern District of the US into the smuggling activities of Latin Kings.
As part of the federal probe in the gang, Garcia confessed to the murder in 2004 and stated that “he caused the death of the deceased by” cutting him into pieces, cutting into pieces, “according to the CRU report.
Four other participants pointed to Garcia as the murderer and became cooperative witnesses in the federal case. He was convicted in 2004, 16 years ago, for the same crime as Pacheco.
“I knew they were arrested for some charges in the FBI and somehow my case had to do with those charges,” Pacheco said CBS News.
As the investigation continued, Garcia told federal prosecutors in 2005 that “Christian Pacheco did not participate in the murder” and again in 2013, he wrote a letter to prosecutors saying that Pacheco was innocent.
“I believed in my heart that I would come home soon. It was just a matter of days, probably months, and it never happened. “
The difficulties in overthrowing unlawful conviction cases meant that it would take another 16 years for Pacheco to be released, despite Garcia’s testimony.
“That is a shortcoming of the system,” criminal lawyer Ken Belkin told CBS.
“If you’re the DA, you really want to interrogate the people you trust to prosecute things … They have such a wall of silence where they say,” Hey, we’re all on the same team. Whatever happened , has happened “. ”
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said he is not convinced of the full innocence of Pacheco because the blood of the victim Lenny Cruz was found after the murder of his shirt
Christian Pacheco claims that he knew he would gain freedom if his beliefs were destroyed
Pacheco said that he fought for his freedom so that his son would now “he is not a murderer”
Pacheco was released from prison on 12 February after prosecutors at the CRU had announced that his conviction should be thrown and the indictment rejected in its entirety.
He can now spend time with his 25-year-old son, who is in the Navy and lives in San Diego, and is meeting his granddaughter for the first time.
“I believe this is one of the reasons I have always fought for my freedom,” Pacheco said ABC news.
“So I can prove to him that his father is not a murderer.”
Pacheco was already scheduled for a conditional hearing in December, but was in the process of leaving his conviction for the past 18 months.
The prosecutors who conducted further investigations into the case stated that “although the investigation did not reveal errors by the police or the public prosecutor, new evidence shows that the statement that led to the conviction – which described that the suspect had cut the victim’s neck – credible. ”
“The right process and fairness are both part of the assessment standards in all our new investigations and therefore I have to put this unlawful murder belief aside for the sake of justice,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement.
“I’m not going to say it feels strange, because I always believed I would get it back,” Pacheco said CBS News on his release.
“I feel peace because I could prove my innocence,”
“I thank God that he is free, that he has the right people to get me out of here and with my family.
“I’m not sorry I helped him, frankly not,” he said of his claim that he hurried to help Cruz fight.
“That’s the kind of person that I am.”
Christian Pacheco, 42, with his lawyers after the Brooklyn DA office announced it had proven that he had been wrongly identified and subsequently convicted of Lenny Cruz’s murder in 1995
Christian Pacheco, right, announced the lawsuit with his lawyer Derek Sells
DA Gonzalez, however, does not believe in Pacheco’s complete innocence, because the blood of the victim was still on his shirt.
The CRU report stated that: “This evidence shows that the only reasonable explanation for the deceased’s blood on the suspect’s clothing is that he attacked the deceased while he and / or other attackers stuck and cut the deceased and the blood of the deceased from the cuts, was transferred by contact with the defendant. ”
The public prosecutor claims that although Pacheco did not strike the fatal blow, he stabbed the victim.
Pacheco filed a lawsuit in the Brooklyn Court of Claims on Wednesday.
“The amount represents the value of freedom,” his lawyer, Derek Sells, told the press conference.
The $ 100 million reward is almost double the largest total reward ever awarded in New York to a person imprisoned for unlawful conviction.
The state has no limits on how much can be paid.
“You can’t afford that,” Pacheco said. “Freedom is the best we have, I believe.”
In New York there have been 268 convictions destroyed since 1964, 94 of which were related to misidentification of witnesses, as in the case of Pacheco.