In March 1986, Tyrone Julius was murdered in the yard of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. David Wong, a Chinese immigrant serving time for armed robbery, was charged with the murder after a prison guard believed he was behaving suspiciously near the scene of the crime. Another inmate claimed to have seen Wong stab the victim. The testimony of the guard and the other inmate –who received a transfer to a lesser security prison as well as a parole recommendation for his testimony – was the only evidence against Wong. Wong testified in his own defense, but his attorney agreed to a court interpreter who did not speak Wong’s dialect, leading to confusing testimony from Wong.
In August 1987, a jury convicted Wong of murder and he was sentenced to 25-years-to-life. Following his conviction, the inmate who testified against Wong recanted and other witnesses came forward and identified inmate Nelson Gutierrez, who died in 2000, as the actual killer. In October 2004, a state appellate court overturned Wong’s conviction and granted him a new trial. After charges were dismissed in December 2004, Wong was transferred to an immigration detention facility and deported to China the next year.
- Stephanie Denzel