Friends Cleared Decades After Being Convicted of Murder

Friends Cleared Decades After Being Convicted of Murder

( – Two lifelong friends have been exonerated decades after being convicted for a crime they reportedly didn’t commit.

David Warren and Eric Smokes were both arrested early in 1987. They were charged with killing Jean Casse, a 71-year-old French tourist, on New Year’s Day in New York City. Casse had been attacked by young men who wanted his wallet. One of them knocked him to the ground, causing a head injury that eventually led to his death. The pair, who were both teenagers at the time, insisted they were innocent.

However, they were both convicted of murder shortly after and sentenced to spend decades in prison. They both tried to file appeals several years later, but their motions were denied. Warren ended up serving a total of 20 years behind bars ahead of being released on parole in 2007, while Smokes served until his parole release four years later.

A prosecution team in the city recently took the men’s side in the case. New evidence has emerged that proves police bullied their four teenage witnesses into testifying against the pair. There was also no DNA evidence to link the men to the murder. NYC district attorney Alivn Bragg said he was “inspired” by their persistence in fighting the convictions over the past few decades.

The men filed a motion to have their convictions overturned in 2017. However, Judge Stephen Antigani joined the district attorney’s office of Manhattan to quickly oppose their efforts. He denied their efforts again in 2020, claiming they failed to provide sufficient evidence of their innocence being probable.

However, Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg launched a new investigation in 2022 after prosecutors claimed they found new evidence of great significance. That evidence included a transcript in which police were found to have pressured witnesses. One of those witnesses originally said that the two teens were not close to the scene of the crime when it occurred. Antignani decided to overturn their convictions shortly after reviewing the new evidence.

New York Daily News reported that after their convictions were overturned, Smokes and Warren said they never gave up and would have kept fighting to prove their innocence for the rest of their lives. Their families were seen celebrating the decision.

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