Manhattan Prosecutors to Appeal Reversal of ’91 Murder Conviction

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Jarrett Murphy

Johnny Hincapie embraces his mother as he leaves the courthouse after getting his conviction overturned on October 6.

The man who says he was wrongfully convicted of a role in an infamous 1990 murder had been waiting to hear whether prosecutors would head back to court to retry him. Turns out prosecutors are heading back to court—not to retry the case, but in a bid to reverse the recent ruling that has Johnny Hincapie back on the street for the first time in a quarter century.

Hincapie was found guilty of being part of a gang of teenagers who jumped a tourist family in the 53rd Street/7th Avenue subway station on September 2, 1990. One of the group stabbed and killed 22-year-old Brian Watkins. Seven men were convicted of the crime, including Hincapie, who confessed to a role.

Hincapie later recanted that confession. In 2010, City Limits published a story by Bill Hughes that identified flaws in the case against Hincapie. Earlier this year, a Manhattan court heard evidence for and against Hincapie’s claim of innocence.

Judge Eduardo Padro on October 6 rejected a bid by Hincapie’s lawyers for a declaration of actual innocence but said they had met the threshold to get the 1991 conviction thrown out. Hincapie was released on $1 bail. The case was profiled last week on NBC’s “Dateline.”

The Manhattan district attorney’s office on Thursday filed its notice of appeal with the state’s first department appellate division. The nature of the appeal is not yet known.

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