Sheldon Thomas

Sheldon Thomas from Brooklyn who was wrongly convicted of a 2004 murder was let out of jail nearly 20 years after he was wrongly identified in a photo array.

Inside Story

Dalton Walters, who was 24 at the time, and Sheldon Thomas, who is now 35, both hail from East Flatbush. The killing of 14-year-old Anderson Bercy in Brooklyn on Christmas Eve 2004 resulted in their arrest and conviction.

According to a 2004 New York Times article, Bercy was shot on Christmas Eve around 11 p.m. while returning home on Snyder Avenue. Kadeem Drummond, a friend from high school, also sustained a shoulder injury. Bercy was killed by two gang members who were traveling in a white car.

Thomas, after spending close to two decades in prison

Walters approached Drummond and Bercy two days prior. Drummond and he got into a fight, but Bercy intervened. According to the DA’s report, Walters then advised the two to “watch themselves” and warned them that they were tampering with the wrong people.

Nearly 20 years after Thomas’ conviction, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit ruled that it was incorrect because a different 17-year-old with the same name was actually responsible for the murder.

The defendant’s prior arrest had been sealed at the time, but the case detective had requested that it be opened so that his picture could be included in the array. They also obtained a photo of a different Sheldon Thomas from police databases.

Aliyah Charles correctly identified the incorrect Thomas when it was shown to a witness, according to the DA. Then, even though the wrong Thomas’ picture wasn’t even in the array, the detectives went to his home to arrest him.

The witness later recognized Thomas in a lineup, correctly distinguishing between two different men.

Detective Robert Reedy acknowledged during cross-examination during a pre-trial hearing in June 2006 that the defendant’s picture had not been in the lineup. This proved that the incorrect photo ID was used.

Despite this, the judge determined that there was probable cause to detain Thomas based on “verified information from unknown callers” and the alleged similarity of the two Thomases, according to the investigators.

Thomas walks free after being incarcerated for close to two decades

Thomas received a sentence ranging from 25 years to life in prison after being found guilty of second-degree murder and other offenses.

The detectives had harassed Thomas after his earlier gun arrest, according to the Conviction Review Unit’s investigators after they re-interviewed witnesses. In order to “arrest the defendant,” they also “coached” a witness into testifying that Thomas was one of the shooters in the Bercy killing.

Thomas was supposed to go to court Thursday(9th March ) in front of Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Matthew J. D’Emic. In its report, the DA’s office said that the conviction should be thrown out and the case shouldn’t be tried again because the evidence was bad.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office claimed that because “detectives were determined to arrest the defendant and used the flawed identification procedure as a pretext,” the incorrect identification was “first concealed and then explained away during the proceedings.”

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez

Additionally, the prosecution continued even after the wrong identification was discovered, violating his right to due process. This rendered his conviction extremely unjust. In a statement, DA Eric Gonzalez said.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office’s Conviction Review Unit, under the direction of Eric Gonzalez, reexamined the case. Gonzalez apologized to Thomas in front of the judge.

Thomas said he forgives the NYPD detective, witnesses, and others who helped put him in jail for the murder of 14-year-old Anderson Bercy, whose real killer is still unknown.

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