Man Exonerated After Being Jailed for 25 years For a Murder He Did Not Commit

“After years of hard work, investigation, and unrelenting persistence in our fight for justice, today — after 25 years — the truth has finally prevailed.” - Attorney Donna Aldea

New York—June 23, 2020 – Attorney Donna Aldea, of Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco, LLP, a boutique criminal defense and civil rights firm with offices in New York City and on Long Island, today announced the exoneration of Samuel Brownridge, who was incarcerated for more than 25 years for a murder that he did not commit.

Mr. Brownridge’s conviction was based on two eyewitness identifications. Ms. Aldea’s motion presented today, which resulted from a new investigation conducted by Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea and LoTurco, LLP, and from Ms. Aldea’s perseverance and persistence over the past three years in compiling and presenting exculpatory evidence to the District Attorney’s Office and the Court, details new evidence that both undermines the reliability of those eyewitness identifications and implicates a violent felon, Garfield Brown, as the actual shooter in the 1994 execution-style murder of a 32-year-old man in St. Albans, Queens.

Ms. Aldea, a named partner and head of the Appellate and Post-Conviction Litigation group of the firm, which pursued the exoneration pro bono, said, "After years of hard work, investigation, and unrelenting persistence in our fight for justice, today — after 25 years — the truth has finally prevailed. While Samuel Brownridge is deeply grateful for the unwavering dedication of his advocates and supporters during this long struggle, and for the courage and integrity of the District Attorney and her staff in finally recognizing and consenting to correct this grievous injustice, there is nothing that will restore the 25 years of Sam’s life that were taken from him as a result of deep, fundamental flaws in our criminal justice system.”

"In the spirit of cooperation between the defense and prosecution that led to this exoneration today, it is my hope that legislators, judges and attorneys on both sides of the bar will take the time to review and understand the multiple failures in our system that produced — and repeatedly affirmed — this unjust conviction, so that we can work together to create and achieve a criminal justice system that is truly just for everyone," Ms. Aldea said.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said, “This is a profoundly poignant day for Mr. Brownridge. After decades of voicing his innocence - this man who served 25 years for a crime he did not commit - will finally be unencumbered by this miscarriage of justice. When I created my Conviction Integrity Unit, it was my goal to do our best to undo the wrongs when our justice system makes life-altering errors. This is our first case and we will continue to work diligently to investigate credible wrongful convictions.”

“We must always keep in mind, that when an innocent person is imprisoned for a crime he or she did not commit, the real perpetrator evades justice and is free to commit other atrocities,” the DA added. “In this case, Garfield Brown was never held accountable for this violent crime.”

Ms. Aldea’s motion to vacate the conviction and dismiss the indictment is attached. In addition, the affirmation in support of the motion, which contains the factual and procedural background of the case, is attached and the full proceeding can be viewed below:

Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco, LLP is recognized throughout the nation as a leader in criminal defense, appellate, commercial litigation and civil rights issues. With more than 200 years of experience and a team of former prosecutors, public defenders and judges, BEKAL is uniquely capable of representing clients in an array of complex legal matters. The firm has offices in Manhattan, Garden City, and Huntington, New York. Follow us on Twitter @barketepstein and LinkedIn.