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Man exonerated after spending 28 years in prison

On behalf of Kenneth Krebs of Law Offices of Karlstrom & Krebs posted in Criminal Defense on Saturday, October 18, 2014.

Twenty-eight years have passed since David McCallum learned he had been found guilty of felony criminal charges and would spend the rest of his life in prison. He was 16 years old.

Just last week, flanked by family members, Mr. McCallum walked out of a New York courtroom a free man. His case is among several criminal cases in the U.S. in the past few years to be vacated upon further review and investigation. In Mr. McCallum's case, an assistant district attorney admitted that McCallum and his friend William Stuckey, who died while in prison, were the victims of "improper suggestion, improper inducement and perhaps coercion” by police investigators.

When a serious crime like murder occurs, police officers and members of law enforcement are under tremendous pressure to find and prosecute the responsible individual(s). In this case, the only evidence tying the two teenage boys to the case was their false confessions, the details of which didn’t corroborate with one another and were fed to the boys by police investigators.

Despite the fact that both teens subsequently recanted their confessions, prosecutors in the 1986 trial aggressively pursued convictions, relying on false testimony and false confessions to convict the two teens of criminal charges related to the murder and kidnapping of a 20-year-old man.

Speaking about his exoneration, Mr. McCallum described it as being "bittersweet" as he was "walking out alone" without William Stuckey.

This case illustrates the injustices that can occur when police investigators employ questionable, unethical or illegal interrogation practices. Ensuring there is oversight of the interrogation tactics of police investigators is especially important in cases involving juvenile suspects who, believing they will be allowed to go home, may provide false confessions.

San Francisco area juveniles who are facing criminal charges would be wise to take the charges seriously and retain a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can defend against criminal charges and help ensure a juvenile’s civil rights are protected and best interests served.

Source: The New York Times, " 2 Brooklyn Murder Convictions From ‘86 Are Vacated," Colin Moynihan, Oct. 15, 2014