Man convicted of 2004 murder released based on incorrect witness identification, prosecutors say

A man who spent more than 18 years behind bars was released on Thursday after prosecutors overturned his murder conviction due to incorrect witness identification and shoddy police work, the prosecutor said of the Brooklyn district, Eric Gonzalez.

Sheldon Thomas, 35, was one of three suspected gang members charged with killing Anderson Bercy, 14, and injuring another person on December 24, 2004 in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, the authorities said. prosecutors in a statement.

“Evidence indicated that two guns were used and the shooters were inside a white car. A witness initially identified two men she knew, who did not include the defendant Thomas, as being in the car,” the statement read.

Thomas “was arrested based on a witness identification of another person with the same name – an error that was first covered up and then explained during the proceedings”.

In court Thursday afternoon, lawyers and prosecutors for Thomas joined in their support to overturn the conviction.

Thomas, who wore a dark suit, thanked the judge and “the highest heavenly father” for guiding him through the ordeal.

Thomas, who was 17 when he was arrested, said he had thought many times in his cell about how he would react if he were ever released.

“I would think about that moment and replay the conversations I had with myself,” Thomas said. “Right now, I’m speechless.”

But, Thomas has, in fact, found words. He explained what the cancellation of his conviction would mean for those close to Bercy.

“I would also like to extend my condolences to the victim’s family,” Thomas said. “I believe since I was incarcerated they felt like they had been given justice for their son and just found out today, and all the while they really had the wrong person who was convicted for the murder of their son. … And it’s not just my life that has been torn apart by … the miscarriage of justice. It was them too.”

The investigation into Thomas’ case was led by the bureau’s conviction review unit, prosecutors said.

They said there was poor detective work in the case because a detective asked to unseal the defendant’s earlier arrest so he could use his picture in a photo board. The previous case involved the defendant pointing an inoperable weapon at officers and resisting arrest, prosecutors said.

“Before this request was completed, detectives obtained a photo of another Sheldon Thomas from a police database,” prosecutors said. “They showed a board with this photo to the witness, who identified the wrong Thomas as being in the car with 90% certainty. Based on his identification, detectives drove to the defendant’s address – not the address of the Sheldon Thomas whose photo the witness had identified – and arrested him.

Gonzalez, who was in court on Thursday, said in a statement, “We must strive for fairness and integrity in each case and have the courage to correct past mistakes.”


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button