Heard Here First: Questions About Infamous 1990 Murder

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Johnny Hincapie

Photo by: Marc Fader

Johnny Hincapie

In a city awash in murder, the 1990 murder of Brian Watkins marked high tide. The killing of a young tourist who was defending his mother from a gang of thugs on a subway platform seemed to capture all the elements of urban terror, and prompted the “Dave, Do Something!” tabloid headlines that helped shape the impression that Mayor Dinkins was incapable of addressing the growing violence.

In the wake of the bloodshed, the pressure to find and punish the perpetrators was intense. As Bill Hughes wrote in City Limits in October 2010, “Within 24 hours, charges were lodged against eight suspects. All but one gave videotaped confessions. The one who did not was let off. The rest got 25 to life.”

One of those convicted was an 18-year-old named Johnnie Hincapie. As the New York Post reports today, noted civil liberties lawyer Ron Kuby has filed a motion to overturn Hincapie's conviction.

The main questions about the conviction are the ones Hughes uncovered for City Limits: that Hincapie's confession was given under questionable conditions, that the lineups in which he was identified were not convincing, that his defense at trial was far from robust.

Read the full story, “The Murder that Changed New York City”, here.

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