Johnny Hincapie is serving a life sentence for the 1990 murder of Brian Watkins, who was visiting New York for the U.S. Open, but his attorney claims that there is new evidence in the case that will prove his innocence. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Visiting from Utah to go to the U.S. Open in 1990, the Watkins family was robbed and brutally attacked on the subway. When their 22-year-old son, Brian, tried to help his parents, he was stabbed to death.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was the first deputy commissioner when the incident happened.
"It sort of galvanized people's concerns and fears about traveling on the subway in those days," he said. "It was a major incident that I think helped to bring about change."
Several teens were convicted of the murder. Among them was Johnny Hincapie, who continues to say officers coerced him into making a videotaped confession.
Now, 23 years after the crime, his lawyers say that they have proof he wasn't involved. They have sworn testimony from one of the accused who had the charges against him dropped.
"He was in the subway system by the token booth when the mugging took place and the killing took place on the subway platform," said Attorney Ron Kuby. "Johnny Hincapie was with him at the token booth level when the the other six were engaging in criminal activity. Hincapie did not participate in the mugging or the ultimate killing."
They're asking a state judge to toss out the conviction.
"My son is innocent," said Carlos Hincapie, Johnny Hincapie's father.
"We always, on the table, right before we start any event, we pray for that family," said Alex Hincapie, Johnny Hincapie's brother. "We have no words. They've actually lost, at least I get to go see my brother. They don't get to see their son."
If this case is reopened, it could open some old wounds. Robert Gangi, a longtime community and policing advocate, said that it was a scary time for some.
"It was one of the incidents back in that time that contributed to the sense that a lot of people had, the impression that a lot of people had, that crime was especially out of control in the city," Gangi said.
People demanded that City Hall and the police department do something about all of the crime that was going on. Then-mayor David Dinkins decided to hire thousands of new police officers, a move that started the decrease in crime two decades ago.