Carlos Weeks was sentenced to 27 years to life in prison for a murder he did not commit as a result of false testimony from a witness who recently recanted her statement and admitted she lied.
Now 46, Weeks walked away as a free man on Thursday after 26 years behind bars thanks to the office of Brooklyn DA, Eric Gonzalez, which looked into his case, according to the New York Post.
Speaking to reporters after the verdict, Weeks, who expressed gratitude, added he holds no ill will towards anyone despite being wrongfully convicted.
“I just want to say I’m feeling good and happy to be out,” he said. “I hope Gonzalez continues with his Conviction Review Unit work because there’s a lot of guys up in there that need it.”
Weeks was convicted for the 1993 shooting and murder of 21-year-old Frank Davis outside the Tompkins Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He also faced an additional charge of injuring a 10-year-old girl in the alleged incident.
During his trial, two sisters, Lorraine and Carmella Taylor, testified they saw Weeks committing the crime from the window of their 12th-floor apartment.
Recent investigations by the DA’s Conviction Review Unit, however, found the two witnesses not credible and moved to vacate the case, the New York Post further reports.
A tearful Lorraine, who confessed to not seeing the murder and assault, told investigators “there was so much pressure” to testify. Carmella, on the other hand, said she did not recall testifying and telling the police she saw Weeks committing the alleged crime.
According to CBS New York, the DA confirmed the sisters gave false testimonies with the intent of cutting a deal for a relative who was facing charges for a different crime.
Gonzalez, whose office has overturned 27 convictions till date, apologized to Weeks.
“Today we continue to see why the search for the truth must continue after a case is considered closed and the conviction has been received and someone has been sent to jail,” he said.
“I wish Mr. Weeks a heartfelt good luck. I apologize to him for what happened to him and we have to make sure we continue to root out these miscarriages of justice.”
The two firms that took up Weeks’ case in 2015, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and The Legal Aid Society, while expressing satisfaction with the verdict, also called on the Conviction Review Unit to speed up other pending cases they were working on.
“This is a happy day for Carlos and his family — a long time in coming — but we have other clients with matters pending before the CRU,” Elizabeth Felber, an attorney with The Legal Aid Society, said.
“We urge that office to investigate those matters promptly so that other wrongfully convicted individuals can experience the vindication that Carlos has experienced today.”
The judge who vacated his case, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dineen Riviezzo, also apologized to Weeks.
“There are no words this court can possibly say to give Mr. Weeks back the years that he spent in prison,” she said.