Steven Lopez, The 6th Defendant In Central Park Jogger Case, Has Been Exonerated


Steven Lopez, The 6th Defendant In Central Park Jogger Case, Has Been Exonerated

Steven Lopez

Steven Lopez, The 6th Defendant In Central Park Jogger Case, Has Been Exonerated

A sixth man indicted in the infamous 1989 Central Park Five rape case had his conviction thrown out on Monday (July 25) - two decades after the exoneration of his co-defendants.

At the age of 15, Steven Lopez-now 48- was arrested along with five other Black and Latino teenagers in the rape and assault on Trisha Meili, but reached a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to the lesser charge that he and several others mugged a male jogger on the same night. The attack, which left Meili in a coma for 12 days, shook the city and left citizens of New York City fearful at a time of high crime and violence.

Steven Lopez

His co-defendants, Kevin Richardson, Antron Mccray, Raymond Santana Jr., Korey Wise and Yusef Salaam - who became known as the Central Park Five - were wrongfully convicted at trial and served 6 to 13 years in prison before their exoneration in 2002. After a nine-month review of the case, investigators uncovered significant evidence that was not provided to the jury during the initial trial, including DNA that linked serial rapist Matias Reyes to the crime.

Prosecutors who reviewed the case had concluded the teenagers' confessions- made after hours of intense and unethical interrogations- were deeply flawed. They wrote in court papers at the time:

"A comparison of the statements reveals troubling discrepancies. The accounts given by the five defendants differed from one another on the specific details of virtually every major aspect of the crime."

Central Park Five/ exonerated five

Exonerated 5

According to legal documents, other individuals who linked Steven Lopez to the attacks on the male and female joggers later recanted their allegations in their civil depositions. The male jogger never identified Lopez as one of the assailants.

Now, Steven Lopez has finally been exonerated, nearly 20 years after his release from prison.  District Attorney Alvin Bragg told a judge Monday that a review of the case found that Lopez had pleaded guilty involuntarily "in the face of false statements" and under "immense external pressure." He served more than three years behind bars before being released in the early 1990s.

During the hearing, Lopez's defense attorney, Eric Shapiro Renfroe told his client:

"I believe what happened to you was a profound injustice and an American tragedy. ... I'm happy to be here today with DA Bragg so we can give you your name back."

Steven Lopez

Steven Lopez reportedly has not received a settlement, and his case has seemingly been forgotten in the years since he pleaded guilty to robbery in 1991 in order to avoid the more serious rape charge.

The Central Park Five, now known as the "Exonerated Five," went on to win a $40 million settlement from the city. The infamous case sparked the critically acclaimed Ken Burns documentary, "The Central Park Five" in 2012 and the 2019 Netflix dramatization "When They See Us" which was created, co-written, and directed by Ava DuVernay.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!

[Source: 1, 2 ]

The post Steven Lopez, The 6th Defendant In Central Park Jogger Case, Has Been Exonerated appeared first on theJasmineBRAND.


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