Detroy Livingston, who spent 35 years in jail for a murder he claimed he didn’t commit, had his conviction vacated by a Brooklyn judge on Friday. Livingston, now 59 years old, was released on parole in 2021 but only recently began to feel a sense of freedom. The decision to vacate his conviction came after prosecutors and Livingston’s legal team worked together to uncover new evidence.
Livingston’s conviction in 1986 was based on the testimony of a single witness who later proved to be unreliable due to her crack cocaine addiction. The witness had placed Livingston at the scene of a robbery and murder at a Bedford-Stuyvesant bodega in 1982. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez stated that the witness’s inconsistent statements and drug habit undermined the conviction and called for its reversal.
Even the victim’s daughter, Karen Dannett, was convinced of Livingston’s innocence. Dannett, who addressed the court via video, expressed her belief that there was no real evidence against Livingston and described the miscarriage of justice that took away 35 years of his life.
The conviction review unit of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office reopened the case after receiving a request from Dannett, who had reviewed the case files and concluded that Livingston was innocent. The unit’s investigations have resulted in 36 convictions being vacated since 2014.
After the court hearing, Livingston expressed relief and gratitude, encouraging others who have been wrongfully convicted to persist and study the law. Dannett, who had sent Livingston a letter in 2007, expressed her sympathy for his long suffering and hoped for better days ahead.