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3 murder verdicts vacated in case investigated by killer cop


Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Three men imprisoned since the 1990s for a fatal New Orleans drive-by shooting were ordered freed Wednesday, with prosecutors citing the role of two notoriously corrupt police officers — including one awaiting a federal death sentence — among the reasons the convictions had to be thrown out.

Kunta Gable and Leroy Nelson were 17 when they were arrested soon after the Aug. 22, 1994, death of Rondell Santinac at the Desire housing development. Bernell Juluke, arrested with them, was 18. The men were ordered freed Wednesday by a state judge who vacated their convictions on a joint motion by defense lawyers and District Attorney Jason Williams’ Civil Rights Division.

The motion outlines multiple problems with the original case. It says the state failed to disclose evidence undermining the claims of the only eyewitness to the crime, Samuel Raiford. And, it notes, the jury didn’t know that officers Len Davis and Sammie Williams — the first officers on the scene, according to the motion — were known to cover up the identity of perpetrators and manipulate evidence at Desire murder scenes to cover up for drug dealers they protected.

“There is extensive documented evidence that while operating under color of law he engaged in illegal drug trafficking, framed individuals who got in his way, and even went so far as to order the murder of a private citizen who dared to report his systematic abuses,” Jason Williams said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

Davis would eventually be convicted for arranging the death of a woman who filed a complaint against him in an unrelated matter.

The motion notes that Raiford did not initially describe three suspects and “the first time three perpetrators were mentioned by anyone is by Len Davis after the three defendants were pulled over …”

The 24-page motion also notes the teens were arrested a short time after the crime with no signs of guns or shell casings in their car.

“We are very grateful to the Court, DA Williams, and the Civil Rights Division for their work in correcting this grave injustice,” Juluke’s attorney Michael Admirand, said in an emailed statement. “Mr. Juluke maintained his innocence from the moment of his wrongful arrest. I am relieved that he has finally been vindicated, if disheartened that it took so long.”

Article Topic Follows: AP National

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