Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bulletin: Shabaka Shakur: Brooklyn, New York. Retired police detective Louis Scarcella case; New trial ordered after judge rules that there was, “a reasonable probability that the alleged confession of defendant was indeed fabricated.” (This Blog's interest: We have been zeroing in on the physical and mental pressures commonly used by police in North America and elsewhere which all too often have been proven to have resulted in wrongful convictions - and usually are employed (as with 'purchased' cellmate confessions) where there is no physical evidence connecting the suspect with the crime.HL);

In a decision released on Tuesday, a judge ordered a new trial for Shabaka Shakur, a man serving two consecutive terms of 20 years to life for a 1988 double homicide in Brooklyn. Mr. Shakur, now 50, had been among the first people to allege misconduct by a retired police detective, Louis Scarcella, who said he took a statement from Mr. Shakur implicating himself in the murders. Mr. Shakur has said in court filings over the years that he gave no such confession to Mr. Scarcella. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office started a review of Mr. Scarcella’s cases after The New York Times reported on problems in his work, including the Shakur case. In his decision, Justice Desmond A. Green of State Supreme Court said there was “a reasonable probability that the alleged confession of defendant was indeed fabricated.” Mr. Scarcella’s account of how he obtained Mr. Shakur’s confession, given last year at a hearing challenging Mr. Shakur’s convictions, “is particularly troubling and causes serious doubts,” the judge wrote. When Kenneth P. Thompson became the district attorney last year, he formed a unit to examine all questionable convictions. That unit said last year that it was standing by Mr. Shakur’s conviction, but did not give a reason, said Ronald L. Kuby, one of Mr. Shakur’s lawyers. Mr. Shakur’s is the second case to be upheld by Mr. Thompson’s unit but successfully challenged in court with a judge ordering a new trial. Justice ShawnDya L. Simpson of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn mandated a new trial for Rosean S. Hargrave this spring, and criticized Mr. Scarcella, who worked on Mr. Hargrave’s case, in her decision. After a three-day trial, Mr. Shakur was convicted of killing two friends, Fitzgerald Clarke and Stephen Hewitt, after an argument about a car. The chief eyewitness was Mr. Clarke’s brother, who is now dead. Mr. Shakur, in his motion for a new trial, presented two alibi witnesses who did not testify at his trial, but much of his motion focused on Mr. Scarcella, who interviewed him after his arrest. In the hearing over a new trial, Mr. Shakur testified that Mr. Scarcella told him: “The only way you’re going to get around this is if you tell me something. Tell me it was self-defense. Tell me they was trying to kill you.” Mr. Shakur said he had nothing to do with the killings. “He’s like: ‘All right, that’s how you going to be? Remember, I gave you this shot. You’re on your way upstate,’” Mr. Shakur said of Mr. Scarcella. Mr. Scarcella typed a statement, attributed to Mr. Shakur: “They were going to kill me. I know C and Steve for about two years. They deserve to die,” it reads in part. But there were no handwritten notes from Mr. Scarcella that would have been the source for the typewritten notes, nor did Mr. Shakur ever sign anything.