A Brooklyn man convicted of murder was ordered free Wednesday after he spent 29 years in prison for crimes he did not commit. The convictions of David McCallum and his late co-defendant, Willie Stuckey, were overturned by a judge at the prosecutor’s request.
McCallum, who was 16-years-old when he was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering Nathan Blenner, was freed after it was concluded that he and Stuckey had made false confessions contradicted by evidence in the 1985 case. Stuckey reportedly died in prison in 2001. Blenner’s body was reportedly found in Brooklyn, a day after he was kidnapped from outside his home in Queens, with a single bullet wound in his head. McCallum and Stuckey were charged with murder, kidnapping, robbery and criminal possession of a weapon.
"I'm very, very happy but very, very sad at the same time because this situation in some ways could have been avoided," McCallum told reporters gathered at the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, according to Reuters.
“It’s a bittersweet moment because I’m walking out alone. There’s someone else that is supposed to walk out with me but unfortunately he’s not,” the 45-year-old man reportedly said.
Ken Thompson, Brooklyn's district attorney, who has been reviewing about 130 old cases, requested Judge Matthew D'Emic to overturn the conviction of McCallum and Stuckey, who were sentenced to between 25 years and life in prison, as the admissions “were false in large part because these 16-year-olds were fed false facts.” Thompson reportedly said that "not a single piece of evidence" linked the two men to the crime.
“When I walked through the doors of this office in January, I inherited a legacy of disgrace with respect to wrongful conviction cases,” Thompson said, according to CBS New York.
McCallum’s case is reportedly the tenth to be cleared since Thompson became Brooklyn’s district attorney in January. About 30 cases have been reviewed and more than 100 are still pending, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“There may be more,” Thompson reportedly said. “We keep getting letters and phone calls, and we’re going to look at any credible claim of wrongful convictions.”