At a hearing Wednesday in Brooklyn to clear a man of his 20-year-old murder conviction for prosecutorial misconduct, there was plenty of blame to go around for what went wrong in the case.
Jabbar Washington, who was fingered as the shooter in a 1995 armed robbery of a crack den in Brownsville, became the 23rd person to have their conviction vacated with the help of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office’s conviction review unit.
Additionally, it is the eighth conviction based on an investigation involving retired New York City police detective Louis Scarcella to get tossed out.
Lisa Todd, one of the five people wounded in the robbery, picked Washington out of a lineup that Scarcella conducted. Days later, she told prosecutors that she identified Washington simply as someone she knew from the building. The recantation was not presented to the grand jury or addressed at trial.
Assistant District Attorney Mark Hale, head of the unit, said during the hearing before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Matthew D’Emic that prosecutors working the case intentionally withheld this information from the defense to gain an advantage.
Kyle Reeves, a former Brooklyn prosecutor who tried the case and is now a partner at McGivney, Kluger & Cook, said he did not present the case to the grand jury or prepare the Rosario materials for the defense.
But the finger-pointing didn’t stop with the prosecutors.
Hale said Scarcella made misleading statements on the stand during the trial and that Washington’s attorney at trial “did not do a great job at combating prosecutorial misconduct.” Alan Abramson and Joel Cohen, Scarcella’s lawyers, said in an interview the “failure in the system” was due to withholding Brady materials.
Ronald Kuby, Washington’s current counsel, called his client’s case an “institutional failing” at all stages.