February 14, 2015

$7.5 million to Another Wrongly Convicted Man in NY

More Brady violations, injuries, and acknowledgements. Dewey Bozella spent 26 years in prison for murdering 92 year-old Emma Crasper. It was a brutal murder, one in which a jury's finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt ought to carry significant weight. Still, in 2009, having acknowledged that criminal conduct "simply does not get more repugnant nor abhorrent than this [murder]," New York State Justice James T. Rooney vacated Bozella's conviction based on the prosecution having withheld various items of Brady material. On February 10, 2015, the Dutchess County legislature approved the settlement of Bozella's subsequent civil suit for $7.5 million dollars. Good for Dewey, but it comes more than two decades late.

The facts of the underlying criminal case are a bit lengthy to describe here. It is enough to say that the only evidence against the then 18 year-old Bozella was the testimony of two long-time criminals. These statements were contradicted by the two witnesses' prior statements, which they recanted after being offered a bevy of benefits, and were further controverted by other witnesses and the forensic evidence.

What Dewey Bozella was not provided with by prosecutors were an assortment of different statements by neighbors that would tend to support his claims of innocence and undercut the stories told by defendants' key witnesses, evidence further establishing that the murderer was a man named Donald Wise, and a police report concerning other, similar crimes that had taken place in the same neighborhood. All of this evidence would have helped Bozella at trial, particularly since the prosecution's case was more than a little weak, to put it nicely.

Yet, the prosecution did not produce it and Bozella was convicted. 26 years later he was freed, and some four years later, Dutchess County has agreed to pay restitution to settle his case, Dewey v. County of Dutchess, 10 CV 4917, which was brought in the United States District Court for the Southern District. While it's nice of the powers that be to tacitly acknowledge the harm that was done, nothing will give Dewey Bozella his life back.

This case is but one more reminder as to why Brady disclosures are so important, why it really matters when prosecutors and cops fail in their obligations, and the overwhelming likelihood that there are many, many more Dewey Bozellas than we will ever know of.

1 comment:

  1. Facing a criminal charge can be daunting, but you should know that you have constitutional rights, including the right to counsel. The road from accusation to conviction is a long one, and with the right attorney, you have many options that can work in your favor.