In August 1995, a Queens County New York jury convicted Arthur Stewart of a home invasion robbery and he was sentenced to 7-to-14 years in prison.
At trial, several of Stewart's acquaintances testified as eyewitnesses to the crime and identified Stewart at the robber. Stewart denied involvement in the crime and testified that he was on a flight to North Carolina with his girlfriend at the time. A flight attendant, who could have supported his account, never testified, nor was his boarding pass presented as evidence; however, several other witnesses supported his alibi.
Following his conviction, Stewart appealed based on his attorney’s failure to present a convincing alibi defense, but the court ruled that these were reasonable choices by his attorney. Stewart then filed a federal habeas corpus petition, prompting the prosecution to investigate the case.
After Stewart passed a polygraph and presented an affidavit from the flight attendant, who had been unable to testify at his original trial due to illness, the prosecution did not oppose Stewart’s motion to overturn his conviction.
In July 2001, the Supreme Court of New York in Queens County vacated Stewart’s conviction and he was released. Stewart filed a claim for wrongful conviction against the state, but it was dismissed after the court found that he did not present the “clear and convincing proof of innocence” required for a claim.
- Stephanie Denzel