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New York Judge Vacates Two Wrongful Murder Convictions

A New York judge vacated two wrongful convictions Monday after reinvestigations found the murder trials were based on incorrect testimony, the district attorney in Manhattan announced, USA Today reports. Wayne Gardine and Jabar Walker, both 49, were convicted of separate murders in the 1990s and spent more than 20 years in prison, according to the Manhattan district attorney's office. Judge Miriam Best on Monday approved the motion to vacate the convictions after the D.A.’s Post-Conviction Justice Unit and defense lawyers found key testimony in both trials was unreliable. Walker was released from prison Monday after 25 years following a 1998 double murder conviction.

Gardine was released on parole last year for a 1996 murder but was then detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Gardine's family has called for his release and drop of deportation proceedings. “Every time I think of Wayne, I’m brought to tears. He lost nearly three decades of his life for a crime that he didn’t commit. ICE can end this nightmare now by immediately freeing my son,” said Grace Davis, Gardine’s mother. Prosecutors across the country are reexamining convictions handed down decades prior based on faulty testimony, police misconduct and inadequate counsel. “Wayne Gardine was just 22 years-old when he was sentenced to decades in prison following a trial that we now believe relied on an unreliable witness and testimony – losing years of freedom due to an unjust conviction,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr. said. “Unjust convictions are the height of injustice and while we can never completely undo the pain he has experienced, I hope this is the first step in allowing Mr. Gardine to rebuild his life and reunite with his loved ones.”

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