On March 10, 1993, Jamie “K-Von” Scott, a reputed drug dealer, was fatally shot six times in the head in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York.
After two witnesses identified Lambert Charles, 17, as the killer, Charles, a low level member of another drug ring, signed a hand-written confession admitting that he killed Scott because Scott had fired a gun at him.
Charles pleaded guilty shortly after the shooting to charges of manslaughter in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. He was sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison in June 1993.
In December 1997, Queens County prosecutors learned from a member of law enforcement that two informants said Charles was innocent, but had agreed to plead guilty to shield other gang members after he was promised $5,000.
The case was re-investigated and both witnesses said they had lied—one because he feared for the safety of his family, the other because he was told that Charles had confessed.
Ballistics tests also revealed that the gun that killed Scott was used in six other murders, some of them after Charles was arrested. The man believed to be the real killer was later murdered and dismembered by other drug ring members, police said.
Charles told authorities that he never received any of the $5,000.
On July 22, 1998, Charles’s conviction was vacated, the charges were dismissed and he was released.
– Maurice Possley