April 23, 2024

New York man wrongfully convicted of murder is finally free

Sundhe Moses, who has been exonerated for the murder of a 4-year-old girl, says he was forced into confessing to the crime as a teenager by a New York police detective. (Adobe Stock)

It took 24 years, but Sundhe Moses is finally free.

Moses was just 19 years old when he was forced into confessing to a crime that he never committed. At the time, the teenager said Louis Scarcella, a New York police detective who has had more than a dozen cases connected to him that were later overturned, beat him until he confessed to the Brooklyn drive-by shooting that claimed the life of a young girl in August 1995.

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Moses, who was in community college at the time and the father of an 8-month-old boy, was convicted and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, according to ABC News.

Although Moses was exonerated for the murder of four-year-old Shamone Johnson last year, he still had a felony on his record due to an additional sentence of promoting prison contraband. He received the charge and conviction after he was found to have a marijuana cigarette that contained traces of heroin while serving time for the murder.

“I was going back and forth to court fighting a case, again. Riding back and forth from prison to court, shackled, I can’t describe it,” Moses told ABC News about the additional charge. “I just copped out … it’s not like I knew when I was going home.”

On Friday, prosecutors finally dropped the drug charge under the argument that had Moses not been wrongfully convicted for the young girl’s murder, he would not have been in prison to accrue a new charge.

“The system encountered someone who has been exonerated for a charge, but while in prison for a case they were wrongfully in prison for, they picked up another conviction,” Moses told ABC News. “There wasn’t any case law similar to give a judge direction on how the case should be litigated.”

Moses’ lawyers Kuby and Rhiya Trivedi filed a motion early this year to have Moses’ guilty plea in the promoting prison contraband case thrown out.

“This situation presents the extremely rare case in which the Court cannot say the defendant would have entered a guilty plea to the crime of attempted promoting prison contraband in the first degree had it not been for the conviction on the murder charge,” wrote Clinton County Court Judge Keith M. Bruno in his written decision granting the motion.

Persistent prosecutors instead asked Moses if he would plead guilty to a misdemeanor
instead of a felony, Kuby told ABC News on Friday.

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“I wasn’t comfortable with that. What if I had a dream to get into politics tomorrow? A
misdemeanor or not, I don’t need that on my record,” Moses told the news outlet.

“As a Black person they think it’s OK to have that on your record. They don’t see it as you shouldn’t have it at all,” Moses explained to ABC News. “They looked at it as ‘Just take it, you’re out, you’re free,’ but I looked at it from a whole other perspective.”

On Friday, Clinton County prosecutors dropped the drug charge “in the interest of justice,” according to Kuby.

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