Free After 24 Years of Wrongful Conviction Due To Disgraced NYPD Detective
A 41-year-old man who was sentenced at the age of 17 for the 1993 shooting of his friend has been released from prison after 24 years of a wrongful conviction. Shane Williams was discharged and acquitted last Friday by the Brooklyn Supreme Court after his murder conviction for the death of Marvin Mason was overturned.
The court was able to establish that his wrongful conviction and incarceration was the fault of disgraced NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella. In recent years the legitimacy of many of Scarcella’s convictions has come under scrutiny with accusations that he coerced witness testimony.
Corrupt NYPD Detectives Coerced Sole Eyewitness to Testify Against Accused
Margaret Smith-Leddy, the only eyewitness to Marvin Mason’s murder, witnessed the shooting from her sixth-floor apartment and was the pivotal witness in the case. She told police the killer was 5-foot-2; Williams is over 6 feet tall. She later recanted her testimony in 2009 and signed a written statement in 2015 that requested Williams conviction be reviewed.
Smith-Leddy had even moved to Georgia from Brooklyn to escape pressure from the detectives in the Mason case to testify. Ultimately, NYPD detectives Scarcella and Stephen Chmil coerced Smith-Leddy to into giving damning testimony that convicted Williams.
Now 63, Smith-Leddy wants nothing to do with the case any longer. She was also absent when Williams’ case was reviewed, and his wrongful conviction was tossed. And since the material witness “did not want to cooperate any longer and is unavailable for a hearing,” the prosecution had nothing to go on and had no choice but to agree to vacate William’s earlier conviction.
“I Got My Freedom Back, But the Fight Is Far From Over,” Williams States
Williams always maintained his innocence during the twenty plus years of his wrongful conviction. For the last five years, his lawyers have worked tirelessly to prove his innocence.
“He’s never stopped professing his innocence. He had hope from day one that the truth is on his side,” Hershey one of Williams’ lawyers, said as his voice cracked. “We are overwhelmed with joy.”
Justice Sharen Hudson announced to the courtroom that “the people will not go forward with retrying this case. This indictment is dismissed. We will do some paperwork and then you are free to go.” The courtroom was riotous as they applauded the verdict and rose to embrace Williams.
The indiscretions of Scarcella and Chmil largely led to Williams’ incarceration, even though the Brooklyn appeals bureau found no misconduct conducted by them. Within the last four years, nine convictions linked to Scarcella have been overturned by the Conviction Review Unit, and the agency still has 30 more convictions related to him to review.
While Williams was elated to regain his freedom, he said that “the fight is far from over.”