After serving two consecutive 20-years to life sentences, a Brooklyn man’s persistence for a review hearing was granted by a judge. Shabaka Shakur, 48, has spent the last 25 years in prison for two murders he claims he did not commit. Shakur argues his conviction was the result of a detective’s fabricated confession and a non-credible witness.
According to Shabaka, former Brooklyn North homicide detective Louis Scarcella was responsible for his alleged incriminating statement that was used as evidence against him.
Allegedly, Mr. Scarecella has a history of obtaining false statements from defendants. The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office is in the process of reviewing 50 murder cases that are suspicious. Scarecella is suspected of solving murder cases by proclaiming false statements from defendants.
After scrutinizing over a dozen similar cases, The New York Times was savvy enough to notice a pattern of defendants arguing their convictions were false and Scarcella was the investigator responsible for framing them. Criminal advocacy organizations, defense lawyers, and inmates were in alignment with the suspicious synchronicity and requested the district attorney’s office dig further into these cases.
Conjuring up bogus confessions was not the only consistency found in the cases Scarcella handled. Murder suspects also claimed they were railroaded by Scarcella using the same unreliable eyewitness for each case.
A crack-addicted prostitute was Scarcella’s chosen eyewitness and source of false testimonials from suspects. Many of the defendants maintain they never spoke with the spurious eye-witness.
61-year-old Scarcella is astonished at accusations of his corrupt conduct and incompetent investigatory techniques. He denies any wrongdoing. However, there are countless stories from inmates that were coerced into admitting guilt in the 80s that are still spending time in prison.
District Attorney Charles J. Hynes is working overtime to evaluate which cases investigated by Scarcella are worthy of reexamining.
Rebuilding these shoddily handled cases is costing taxpayers money and the Brooklyn D. A.’s office time.
Prosecutors are willing to dismiss cases they find unjust.
“People will look for blame,” said John O’Mara, who leads the Conviction Integrity Unit. “Our goal isn’t to look for blame. Our goal is to correct injustice.” David Ranta was one of the fortunate individuals recently released from prison after spending 23 years of his life paying for a crime he did not commit. Ranta was convicted of killing a Rabbi because of false witness statements and Scarcella and a partner’s slapdash police work. Instead of pursuing valid suspects in this case, Scarcella and his partner negotiated with violent crack-addicted criminals for witness statements in return for freeing them from jail.
When asked for an opinion on such unjust incarcerations, one individual responded, “We read about this kind of thing often enough that we can assume it goes on a lot. It is the natural product of underfunded judicial systems as well as the existence within them of perverse incentives that are like the noxious weeds in your garden.” According to the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College, London, the United States has 2.3 million people behind bars.
This country has the highest incarceration rate in the world despite having less than 5 percent of the world’s population. The U. S. houses almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.
These facts lead one to consider, what percentage of America’s prisoners are innocent? How many people have been unjustly imprisoned?
Published Jul 10, 2013 by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA | Last Updated by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA on Jul 19, 2023 at 11:42 pm