TWO MEN AWARDED 16 MILLION EACH FOR BOGUS CONVICTIONS AFTER SERVING 16 YEARS IN PRISON

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Two New York men were awarded 16 million dollars each by a jury who heard testimony regarding their wrongful convictions this week. In essence, the amounts coincided with each year the men spent in prison for a brutal crime they did not commit. John Restivo (56) and Dennis Halstead (59) were convicted of the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl in 1985. The body of the young girl had been found naked in a wooded area of Lynnbrook, New York on December 5th, 1984- a month after she had last been seen leaving a roller rink. The convictions were over-turned based upon newly discovered and questionable evidence relied on during their trials. Controversial “expert” testimony had been introduced during their original trials for the purpose of establishing the presence of the victim’s hair samples in one of the defendant’s van; it was later discovered that such evidence was bogus.  Following their long imprisonment, several organizations and lawyers were able to prove that the science prosecutors had relied on was wrong. Moreover, DNA samples taken from preserved vaginal swabs eliminated the men. The men were freed from prison in June of 2003 and fully exonerated in 2005 following the acquittal of their co-defendant, John Kogut, in a bench re-trial. During that trial, Kogut’s alleged confession to the crime was the focal point of the state’s case and it was deemed to be a “false confession”.  The real killer has not been found.

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