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Jeff Deskovic, wrongly convicted of rape and murder, awarded $41.6 million in damages

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By Radley Balko

 

A couple of weeks ago I posted about William Lopez and Jeff Deskovic, two men who had been wrongly convicted and imprisoned, then exonerated. Deskovic was released first and started a foundation to find and remedy other wrongful convictions. His first victory was the release of Lopez. The two became good friends before, sadly, Lopez died this month.


Now comes some much-deserved good news:



Quote:


Justice is served — with a hefty bill.




 



A Putnam County man wrongly convicted of raping a fellow high school student when he was 16 was awarded Thursday what his lawyers called the largest sum in U.S. history.



Jeff Deskovic won $41,650,000 in a lawsuit against sheriff’s investigator Daniel Stephens and Putnam County.



 



In 1989, 15-year-old Angela Correa never returned to school after leaving to take pictures for a photography class. Her body was later found beaten, raped and strangled.



 



Investigators zeroed in on Deskovic, who showed up late that day for school. Authorities said he seemed obsessed with the case, further rousing their suspicion.



 



Eventually Deskovic was given three lie detector tests over the course of a six-hour interrogation in which he eventually confessed.






 



He was convicted despite the fact that DNA tests on sperm taken from the victim didn’t match his own. He served well over a decade in prison before new DNA tests found a match to a man named Steven Cunningham, who then confessed to the rape and murder.


Associated Press reports say that because of the terms of a pretrial agreement, Deskovic will receive only $10 million of the award.






I'll post the mentioned Associated Press story, shortly.


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AP

 

Quote:

 

 

Jury awards $40M in false prosecution case

 

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — A jury in Westchester County on Thursday awarded $40 million to a man who spent over 16 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, although lawyers said the award will be limited to $10 million under the terms of a pre-trial agreement.

 

The White Plains jury found in favor of Jeffrey Deskovic, 40, who had sued a former Putnam County detective and Putnam County, among others.

 

 

 

His lawyer, Nick Brustin, said settlements before trial with other defendants, including Peekskill and Westchester counties, had already produced about $15 million. He said his client used some of the money to start a foundation to help others who were wrongfully convicted.

 

 

 

Deskovic was first arrested at age 16, charged with raping and killing a Peekskill High School classmate in November 1989. Deskovic was freed in 2006, exonerated after DNA evidence proved another man committed the crimes.

 

 

 

Stephen Wellinghorst, a lawyer for the defendants, said a deal before trial will limit damages to $10 million and that $6 million had already been turned over. He said there would be no appeal.

 

 

 

Brustin said his client broke down emotionally after the verdict and hugged one of the jurors.

 

 

 

"He was very emotional, very grateful," he said.

 

 

 

Brustin said Deskovic's suffering in a maximum-security prison was extraordinary because he was labeled a child rapist.

 

 

 

"Prison was an incredibly isolating, lonely, terrifying experience for him," he said.

 

 

 

The lawyer said starting his own foundation has been therapeutic for him.

 

 

 

"He's really an amazing guy now. It's what drives him," he said. "At the same time, he has tons of other problems, socially and personally. He's had a very tough time."

 

Brustin said Deskovic suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and depressive disorder, along with related issues.

 

 

 

The lawyer said his client was celebrating the verdict.

 

 

 

"He's with friends tonight. He's a little overwhelmed," Brustin said.

 

 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by hookinfinger View Post

I don't believe he is innocent of crimes.


I don't believe anyone is innocent of crimes.


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Originally Posted by chitstain View Post

 

***** Please..................I can do 3 felonies before breakfast!!!!!!!!!!!




I aim for at least 12 per day.



But not everyone can be as awesome as us. :cool:


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