2/23/14

A Dying Rubin Carter Pleads for Bushwick Man's Release

Last week, the Daily News published a letter to the editor from a now terminally-ill Rubin Carter. The former middleweight champion, wrongly convicted of a triple murder in Paterson, N.J. and finally released from prison after serving 19 years, is seeking the release of incarcerated former Bushwick resident David McCallum.

Now an advocate for wrongly-convicted prisoners, Carter, in his "Most Read", "Most Shared" deathbed letter to the Daily News, pleads with Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson to refer McCallum's case to Thompson's newly-constituted Conviction Review Unit.

When the facts are brought to light, Carter said, he is sure that Thompson will recommend McCallum's immediate release.

McCallum's was the first case accepted for review by former D.A. Charlie Hynes' Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU).  But the case was dropped after John O'Mara, who headed the unit, suddenly retired at the end of last year after setting aside just one conviction: that of David Ranta.

Incarcerated since 1985 -- the same year Carter was released from jail -- McCallum is represented by pro bono attorneys Oscar Michelen and John O'Hara.

Then-teenagers McCallum and co-defendant Willie Stuckey were convicted of kidnapping and murdering 20-year-old Nathan Blenner, found dead near a burned-out Buick Regal in Bushwick's Aberdeen Park in 1985.

Willie Stuckey died in prison.

There was no physical evidence connecting either Stuckey or McCallum to the crime or the scene. Their convictions were based solely on confessions that Carter says were wrongly obtained and didn't corroborate.

Like his own, Carter said, McCallum's conviction was predicated on "racism and concealment."

According to new affidavits obtained by the defense, Carter said, police reports that possibly contained exculpatory evidence disappeared.  New DNA test results don't match the defendants'; and fingerprinting results point away from the convicted men.

At McCallum's last hearing before the Parole Board, he was reportedly offered release on the condition that he admit guilt. McCallum, jailed for 30 years, declined the offer.

Filmmaker Ray Klonsky is making a documentary about McCallum's case. McCallum's mother still hopes for his release.

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