A judge agreed on Tuesday to toss out a conviction in a 1997 fatal shooting, making it the seventh time this year a defendant has been cleared in an exhaustive reexamination of old homicide cases.
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson asked the judge to release Roger Logan based on new evidence turned up by prosecutors' conviction review unit that called into question the credibility of a purported eyewitness. Logan, 53, walked out of court a free man on Tuesday after serving nearly 17 years of a 25-years-to-life sentence.
Since taking office in January, Thompson has intensified the work of the review unit, agreeing to re-examine 90 cases from the 1980s and 1990s to determine if there were wrongful convictions. Most of them stem from concerns about the investigative tactics of now-retired police detective Louis Scarcella.
New evidence that Scarcella coached a witness to pick a suspect out of a lineup led to the release last year of David Ranta, who served 23 years in prison in the slaying of a Brooklyn rabbi. That decision sparked renewed allegations that Scarcella fabricated confessions, manipulated witnesses and intimidated suspects in other cases, charges he denies.
After seeing press coverage of the Ranta decision, Logan contacted prosecutors from prison and said Scarcella and other detectives had framed him in a fatal shooting that stemmed from a dispute at a dice game. The review turned up old police records showing that a woman who claimed she had seen Logan at the dice game was in fact in custody at the time of the game.
Of 57 Scarcella-related cases, the review board has determined that 11 convictions should stand, prosecutors said.