THREE men previously convicted on murder charges in a brutal killing have had their convictions dismissed by a New York judge.
The dismissal came as a shocking twist in the decades old case involving a subway clerk, who was killed and set on fire inside a toll booth in November 1995.
Police said token seller Harry Kaufman, a 50-year-old father, was working an overnight shift at a Brooklyn subway station when attackers tried to rob him, NBC New York reported.
The suspects squirted gasoline into the booth and set it on fire with matches with Kaufman reportedly pleading: “Don’t light it!”
The booth then exploded as Kaufman ran out while in flames. His death came two weeks after.
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Vincent Ellerbe, James Iron, and Thomas Malik were teenagers when they were sent to jail over the subway clerk's 1995 killing.
The teens eventually confessed to the crime and were sent to prison for 25 years.
But according to the judge, those confessions relied on false information and bad evidence.
All three of the men had their murder convictions cleared by the Brooklyn judge on Friday, allowing two of the three to be released from prison.
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In the July 15 ruling to dismiss the charges, the judge concluded that the falsified confessions and other flaws in the case were used to secure the convictions.
“What happened to us can never be fixed,” the 44-year-old Ellerbe said in court, according to the Associated Press.
“They break you, or they turn you into a monster.”
Ellerbe was given parole and released from jail in 2020, but Malik and Irons remained behind bars.
The recent ruling allowed Malik and Irons to walk free from prison after 25 years.
Both are now 45 years old.
After the ruling, Malik told the Associated Press that it was “definitely too little, too late, but everything takes time.”
“I just was happy that I was able to stand strong to endure this journey,” Malik said.
“But it was a rough journey.”
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Their case is one of several that have been revisited as part of an initiative from the Brooklyn district attorney's office.
The judge reviewed the three men's case after it was reexamined by the Brooklyn district attorney's office, the New York Times reported.
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