A New York man who spent 19 years in prison after being accused as a teenager of stabbing his own mother to death has been cleared of the charges, reports multiple news sources, including NBC 4 New York. Huwe Burton says he feels like a weight has been lifted off him after a Bronx judge threw out his conviction on Thursday.
Burton was released on parole in 2009. While he had his freedom, he says living with a wrongful conviction in the 1989 killing of his mother was “a lot to bear.” Questioned at 16, Burton gave a confession he immediately recanted. After a trial in Bronx Supreme Court, Burton was convicted on Sept. 25, 1991 of second-degree intentional murder and fourth-degree weapon possession for stabbing his mother, Keziah Burton, 59, in her bed in their apartment on Eastchester Road on Jan. 3, 1989. On Feb. 13, 1992, he was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
His Innocence Project lawyers and Bronx prosecutors say a reinvestigation found detectives used problematic interview techniques now understood to generate false confessions. “The injustice he endured is unimaginable — to be wrongly convicted of murdering his mother, whom he adored,” Susan Friedman, attorney for the Innocence Project, said. Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark says she doesn’t have confidence that Burton’s confession was true.
“Mr. Burton served 19 years in prison and since his release in 2009 has led a law-abiding life. He has maintained his innocence for almost 30 years and now we will clear his name of this brutal killing,” Clark said. “The interests of the community are best served by dismissing this indictment so he can move on with the rest of his life.” The Conviction Integrity Unit scoured transcripts and case files, interviewed witnesses and scrutinized the quality of evidence used to convict Burton, the district attorney’s office said, adding that scientific evidence not available until recently “identified flawed interview techniques as well as other factors, such as youth, that increase the likelihood that a confession is untrue.”