A Brooklyn man who has spent the past 29 years in prison for murder is expected to walk free on Wednesday.
David McCallum, together with co-defendant Willie Stuckey, were found guilty of kidnapping and shooting Nathan Blenner, 20, in a Bushwick park in October 1985. The two 16-year-olds were sentenced to 25 years to life behind bars the next year.
Stuckey died in prison in 2001, but McCallum has had his innocence championed by late boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who served 19 years in prison after he was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1966.
David McCallum, who was just 16 when he was found guilty of kidnapping and shooting a man in 1985, is expected to have his conviction overturned by a New York judge today. Just two months before Carter died in April he wrote an op-ed for the New York Daily News in which he called for Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson to review McCallum’s case.
“My single regret in life is that David McCallum… is still in prison,” Carter wrote. “Knowing what I do, I am certain that when the facts are brought to light, Thompson will recommend his immediate release.”
Lawyers for McCallum, now 45, wrote Thompson a letter in January arguing that neither DNA nor handprints found at the scene of the crime matched those of McCallum or Stuckey. The convictions were dependent on their confessions, which the suspects, then both 16, immediately recanted. In 2012, McCallum told a parole board; “I was beaten by the officers and I was coerced into making a confession.”
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a star prizefighter whose career was cut short by a murder conviction in New Jersey and who became an international cause célèbre while imprisoned for 19 years before the charges against him were dismissed, died on Sunday morning at his home in Toronto. He was 76.
The cause of death was prostate cancer, his friend and onetime co-defendant, John Artis, said. Mr. Carter was being treated in Toronto, where he had founded a non-profit organization, Innocence International, to work to free prisoners it considered wrongly convicted.
Mr. Carter was convicted twice on the same charges of fatally shooting two men and a woman in a Paterson, N.J., tavern in 1966. But both jury verdicts were overturned on different grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.
The legal battles consumed scores of hearings involving recanted testimony, suppressed evidence, allegations of prosecutorial racial bias — Mr. Carter was black and the shooting victims were white — and a failed prosecution appeal to the United States Supreme Court to reinstate the convictions. Denzel Washington was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000 for starring in “Hurricane”, a film about Carter’s fight for justice.