Sunday, April 12, 2015

David McCallum: Just 16 years old when he and a friend were forced into falsely confessing to a murder in Brooklyn they did not commit - followed by 29 years in jail until his conviction was reviewed and overturned: In Toronto for a 2014 documentary about McCallum's case, Globe and Mail Justice Reporter Jeff Gray asks McCallum about his friend Rubin (Hurricane) Carter who championed his case from his deathbed - and explains why it is so difficult for others to understand that a person could falsely confess. (Must Read. HL);

STORY: "False confession: Man freed after 29 years, visits Toronto for doc on his case," by Globe and Mail Justice Reporter, published on March 18, 2015.

GIST: "It was 1985, and David McCallum was just 16 years old when he says he and a friend, William Stuckey, were forced into falsely confessing to a murder in Brooklyn that they did not commit. Mr. Stuckey died in prison in 2001. But Mr. McCallum spent 29 years in jail until his conviction was reviewed and overturned last October. Rubin (Hurricane) Carter, who died last year, had championed his cause from his deathbed and a 2014 documentary about his case, David & Me, by two rookie Canadian filmmakers, Ray Klonsky and Marc Lamy, also played a role. On Wednesday night, Mr. McCallum was in Toronto to see the film – recut with footage of his release – for the first time at the Bloor Hot Docs cinema.........It must be bittersweet coming to Toronto for this event and not finding Rubin (Hurricane) Carter here. Most definitely. Rubin will always have a special place in my heart and is really somebody that I will never forget. I made some commitments and some promises to him that I’m actually going to keep. Not to be able to share this moment with him, at least physically, it’s something that I think about all the time. What’s the advice that he gave you? One of the things that really stood out for me that he said to me was, ‘David, when you get out, you are going to have to live a pristine life,’ to use his exact words. Which means that, of course, I am going to have to lead a clean life, because there is going to be some work being put in for you and the very least you can do is do the right thing with the remainder of your life, however you decide to do it. Is the false confession issue hard for people to understand? I think people, with confessions, they automatically assume that the person’s guilty of the crime. And quite frankly, looking at things in hindsight, I can understand why they feel that way. Because many confessions that are made are believable. But what the public doesn’t sometimes understand is a lot of the times when people falsely confess to crimes, it is with information that is fed to them by law enforcement. Look, as a kid at the time, Willie and I, we were beaten up by the detective in the case, and made to falsely confess, one pointing the finger at the other. Here was a 16-year-old kid, being kept from his family, didn’t understand my Miranda rights, although they were read to me, briefly. So when you factor all of these things into the equation, not being able to eat, I succumbed to the pressure of the police, and I made the worst mistake of my life."
The entire interview can be found at:

Link to TVO's Web page on the documentary (David and Me); (The page contains a link to the documentary which (good news) can be seen within Canada, but (bad news) may not be viewable within other jurisdictions.)

See  Nation Register of Exonerations account: "McCallum and Stuckey were brought in for questioning on October 27, 1985. Detective Butta said both confessed to carjacking and killing Blenner, although their confessions did not match. Stuckey said McCallum killed Blenner and shot him three times. McCallum said Stuckey shot Blenner and fired just once. Stuckey also confessed that he and McCallum had approached a woman who was washing her car just before the carjacking and commented that she had a nice vehicle. Both said Blenner was shot at night. However, the medical examiner said an autopsy indicated Blenner was shot during the day shortly after he was abducted. McCallum and Stuckey recanted the confessions almost immediately and claimed that detectives had slapped them. McCallum also said that the detectives threatened to hit him with a chair unless he confessed. Both rejected offers to plead guilty in return for prison sentences of 15 years to life and they went on trial in Kings County Supreme Court in October 1986. No physical or forensic evidence linked them to the crime. There were no witnesses who said they saw either one commit the crime. The primary evidence against them was their confessions. On October 27, 1986, a jury convicted them both of second-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree robbery and criminal use of a weapon. They were each sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Their appeals were denied. Stuckey died of a heart attack in prison in December 2001. McCallum continued to file legal challenges to his conviction, but was unsuccessful. In 2011, McCallum’s attorney, Oscar Michelen, asked Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes to submit the case to his Conviction Integrity Unit. Subsequently, DNA tests were performed on cigarette butts and a marijuana roach that had been found in Blenner’s car (Blenner had prohibited smoking in his car). The DNA profile of a man with a criminal record was identified, but neither Stuckey’s nor McCallum’s DNA was found. Michelen’s re-investigation of the case revealed the police interrogation of Heyward and Mumford, which had not been disclosed to the defense attorneys for McCallum and Stuckey prior to their trial."


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