A man who spent over 25 years in jail for a wrongful conviction went straight for BBQ ribs after being freed.
Mark Denny was behind bars for more than two decades for a rape and robbery conviction due to being falsely identified.
After being freed in Brooklyn Supreme Court, Denny and about 20 other people including his mother Elaine Denny, 65, and other family member walked straight to Dallas BBQ to celebrate.
He enjoyed steak, ribs, rice and corn bread, his first meal as a free man at the Livingston street BBQ joint.
After the meal, Denny and two attorneys went to near by T-Mobile store to get him new cell before leaving.
He was jailed in 1989 after three men broke into a closed Burger King, assaulted an 18-year-old worker and robbed the store of $3,000 (£2,250).
He was later identified as a suspect following an unrelated arrest months after the attack.
The victim at first did not identify him but later picked him out of a line-up.
The case is the 24th conviction that the Brooklyn district attorney’s office has disavowed in the last 3 years.
It comes as the New York authority revisits over 100 convictions in one of the most sweeping reviews of its kind in the US.
Some of those cases were handled by a once-prominent detective whose tactics now face renewed scrutiny.
District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said this case was not the fault of law enforcement, ‘but happened because little was known back then about memory retention and retrieval, and their effect on eyewitness identification.’
Gonzalez sought the help of a psychology professor who specialises in the reliability of eyewitness identifications.
She said the victim had a limited chance to see her attackers because she had cloth tied around her eyes for part of the crime.
That fact, plus the extreme stress of the attack and the long period until identification of suspects, could have contributed to false identification.
Denny, who was 17 at the time, was sentenced to 19 to 57 years. He maintained his innocence and refused to participate in a sex offender program. He was granted parole in October but no date had been set for his parole.
Mark’s first meal as a free man (Picture: Splash)
According to the Daily News of New York, one of the other three defendants was convicted and sentenced to 16 to 48 years and was paroled in 2015.
Another’s case was dismissed at a second trial because the victim was emotionally unable to testify. A third pleaded guilty. Those convictions have not been questioned.
Denny was released from prison last week but appeared before a Brooklyn judge to have the case formally dismissed.
‘Mr. Denny has been waiting for this day for a very long time,’ said Nina Morrison, senior staff attorney for the Innocence Project, praising the work of the district attorney’s office.
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