Judge Vacates Murder Conviction Of Black Man Who Spent 26 Years In Prison

A New York man has had his name cleared after spending nearly three decades in prison for a murder he long claimed he didn’t commit.

According to NY Daily News, Michael Robinson’s 1993 murder conviction was vacated on Wednesday (March 22) with judges declaring that “there existed a reasonable probability that the verdict would have been more favorable to the defendant” had DNA evidence been admitted at trial.

Robinson, now 56, was convicted of murdering his estranged wife, Gwendolyn Samuels, who was killed in an elderly woman’s home while working as her home health aide. The conviction was largely based on eyewitness testimony from Samuel’s 88-year-old patient who suffered from significant vision issues, according to Robinson’s attorney, Harold Ferguson.

A deadlocked jury came back three times until Robinson was put behind bars in 1994. While in prison, Robinson, who maintained his innocence, filed multiple motions in federal and state court that were denied.

“Even his appearances before the parole board he never wavered,” Ferguson told the Daily News. “He has never wavered from, ‘I am innocent.’”

It was later determined that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner possessed testable DNA evidence under Samuels’ fingernails, which was “78.1 trillion times more likely to belong to someone other than Robinson,” NY Daily News reports.

Now that his conviction has been vacated, the district attorney’s office will decide if they want to retry Robinson.

“He is ecstatic,” Ferguson said on behalf of Robinson. “It’s something he’s been looking forward to for thirty years. He is thrilled beyond belief.”

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