NYC prosecutor asks to quash decades-old murder conviction

NEW YORK — A New York City prosecutor will ask a judge on Wednesday to vacate 28-year-old murder convictions against two men whose cause was later championed by boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, saying they were convicted on confessions that were coerced.

Willie Stuckey, Jr., and David McCallum were both 16 years old in 1986 when a jury in Brooklyn found them guilty of kidnapping and murdering Nathan Blenner. McCallum, now 45, has been in a state prison ever since. Stuckey died in prison in 2001.

Rubin Carter, the former professional boxer who spent 19 years in prison on what was later ruled a wrongful murder conviction, became an advocate for McCallum, and before his death in April, said it was his final wish that McCallum be released.

After reviewing their cases, Ken Thompson, Brooklyn’s district attorney, said both men’s confessions that were contradicted by evidence.

“There is not a single piece of evidence that linked David McCallum or William Stuckey to the abduction of Nathan Blenner, to the car that was stolen, to the body of the victim, or even to the area where the body was recovered,” Thompson told reporters at a news conference.

His office had notified Blenner’s family, who were “heart-broken” at the news, Thompson said.

McCallum is expected to attend the court hearing in Brooklyn on Wednesday afternoon, according to the district attorney’s office and the state’s Department of Corrections.

Blenner was 20 when he was kidnapped after getting into his car on Oct. 20, 1985 outside his home in Queens. Children playing in a vacant lot in Brooklyn found his body the next day. He had been shot once in the head and robbed of his wallet.

McCallum and Stuckey were charged with murder, kidnapping, robbery and criminal possession of a weapon. Both boys confessed, but soon recanted and said a police detective had beaten them into confessing. After a jury trial, they were both sentenced to between 25 years and life in prison.

Thompson was elected to become Brooklyn’s district attorney last year, and has begun reviewing about 130 old cases, resulting in nine convictions being vacated so far. He has been critical of the city’s police department and the work of his predecessor, Charles Hynes, who had held the office since 1990.

“I inherited a legacy of disgrace with regards to wrongful conviction cases,” Thompson told reporters at a news conference.

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