This summer, a federal prosecutor found two people had been wrongfully convicted of a 1995 murder they didn’t commit. Now, months later, they are still in prison, even though two other men have confessed to the crime. And there’s no telling when, or even if, they might be released. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
It was earlier this summer that Eric Glisson got the good news. A federal prosecutor concluded he’d been wrongfully convicted after two Bronx gang members confessed to the crime for which he’s served 17 years in prison: the robbery and fatal shooting of livery cab driver Baithe Diop in 1995.
“Mid-June is when we found out that they had this evidence that Eric’s innocent," said Peter Cross, Glisson's attorney. "And we still can’t get him out of jail.”
Cross believes the Bronx District Attorney is holding up the release of his client and co-defendant Cathy Watkins. In a ruling issued Wednesday, Bronx Judge Efrain Alvarado called the evidence to overturn Glisson’s conviction compelling.
Alvarado said in the ruling that “Clearly the proof submitted thus far by the defendants raises a serious question” about Glisson's guilt.
But the judge won’t act without the approval of Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, whose office says it can’t yet verify that Glisson is innocent, as their investigation is complicated by the fact some of the primary players in the case have died.
“They filed papers saying that despite their due diligence, they haven’t been able to complete their investigation," Cross said. "And, you know, in my humble opinion, they’re really just dragging their feet.”
According to Cross, the DA has not even interviewed the confessed killers. A spokesman for the Bronx DA wouldn’t discuss that.
“Based on what we have heard and read so far, we still need to investigate in order to come to a final determination whether to agree to dismiss the charges or oppose the motion to dismiss,” the DA's office said in a statement.
But the DA also said Glisson’s case is a high priority and that it supports his conditional release pending further investigation, something the judge says he doesn’t have the legal authority to order.
Both sides are due back in court Oct. 19 in a case that now looks like it drag on for months.