Innocent Man Spent 17 Years Behind Bars for a Crime He Didn’t Commit, He’s Now Exonerated

May 31, 2019 Updated: June 6, 2019

This is something we hope never happens, but for one reason or another, it sometimes does. Can you imagine the sense of betrayal, injustice, and helplessness while being locked up for a murder you never committed? What hope did Bunn, who was illiterate, have of defending himself? Who would listen to his desperate plea of innocence?

John Bunn was just 14 years old when he was tried and convicted for the killing of an off-duty correctional officer, Rolando Neischer, in 1991. He was released 17 years later on lifelong parole when in 2006 he prevented the attempted rape of a prison counselor.

He had always maintained he was innocent, and claimed he had been framed by now-disgraced former New York detective Louis Scarcella, who’s now in his late 60s. Bunn began a fight to clear his name, and was finally cleared of the charges by Supreme Court Justice Shawn’Dya Simpson.

As Judge Simpson overturned Bunn’s conviction, she was almost in tears: “I am more than emotional about this day. You were 14 at the time. This shouldn’t have ever happened,” said Simpson.

A tearful Bunn held the judge’s hands and thanked her.

He had finally obtained some justice, but as Bunn himself said, “Y’all had the wrong man this whole time and you have [someone] out there running free and y’all had no right to do what you did.”

Thirteen cases of wrongful conviction so far have been overturned relating to Scarcella, with 70 more to be investigated, according to a May 20 NY Daily News report. Bunn’s co-defendant from 1991, Rosean S. Hargrave, had his conviction thrown out in 2015 by Supreme Court Justice Simpson.

Bunn can’t be given back those lost years, but he can now begin a life free of any stigma.

But what of detective Scarcella—two people have suffered and who knows how many others? What redress should he face?

See the report below:

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