After More than 23 Years in Prison, Brooklyn Man Gets Murder Conviction Tossed Over Controversial Detective’s Work

What to Know

  • A Brooklyn man who spent more than 23 years in prison has been freed on bail after a judge threw out his murder conviction
  • The judge pointed partly to the role of a detective, whose tactics have come under intense scrutiny, for the reason to free Eliseo DeLeon
  • Now 42, DeLeon was just 18 years old when he was convicted in the June 1995 shooting of Fausto Cordero in Clinton Hill

A Brooklyn man who spent more than 23 years in prison has been freed on bail after a judge threw out his murder conviction, pointing partly to the role of a detective whose tactics have come under scrutiny.

Eliseo DeLeon walked out of court Tuesday.

"Martin Luther King said it best: Free at last, free at last, thank Gard almighty free at last," DeLeon said to reporters outside the courthouse Tuesday afternoon.

Brooklyn prosecutors say they don't believe DeLeon established his innocence, and that the victim's family is convinced of the convicted man's guilt. While they haven't said yet whether they plan to retry him, appeal or drop the case, the Brooklyn district attorney did say that they were confident they would "prevail at an appeal or a potential retrial."

Now 42, DeLeon was just 18 years old when he was convicted in the June 1995 shooting of Fausto Cordero in Clinton Hill. He was sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison for the murder, which he maintained he did not commit.

DeLeon said his confession was fabricated by police, including controversial now-retired Detective Louis Scarcella.

Scarcella, along with his partner, has faced allegations of misconduct from numerous people he helped convict. He has denied wrongdoing.

Brooklyn state Supreme Court Justice Dena Douglas said Scarcella "demonstrated a disregard for the law" and indicated there was strong evidence of malfeasance.

DeLeon's lawyer said it is "ludicrous" to think that the conviction should stand, saying Scarcella's tactics were "illegal."

DeLeon was greeted by his family and several other men wearing "wrongfully convicted" hats who say that Scarcella framed them too. The newly freed man said he has nothing to say to Scarcella and his partner.

"I have nothing to say to them. They are going to live their life and they'll have to be judged by God, not me," said DeLeon.

Both DeLeon and prosecutors will be back in court next week.

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