On June 22, 1985, an 11-year-old girl told police that she came out of the shower wearing only a towel in her home in the Bronx, New York, and saw a man in the hallway. She said she ran to a closet, but the man ordered her out at knifepoint and forced her to sit on a bed while he ransacked the apartment and then fled with two bags of valuables.
Three days later, the girl, Leslie Carr, after viewing hundreds of photographs, selected the photograph of 39-year-old James Anderson in a photographic lineup.
Police were unable to locate Anderson at first, but finally, in October 1985, Anderson was arrested and put in a live lineup. At the time, Anderson had one of his eyes heavily bandaged (the result, he said, of being struck with a baseball bat in a fight), so the other five participants also wore bandages over their eyes. Carr selected Anderson as the man who accosted her with a knife and burgled the apartment. Anderson was charged with robbery, burglary, grand larceny, criminal possession of a weapon and endangering a child.
Anderson was released on bond and was a fugitive for more than two years until he was arrested again in December 1989. He told his lawyer that he had been at a hospital methadone treatment center for several days getting treatment at the time of the burglary. The defense lawyer subpoenaed the records and in January 1990 requested a continuance because the records had not yet been received. The judge denied the request to delay the trial after the prosecutor reported that he had called the hospital and was told that there were no records of Anderson getting treatment there.
On January 17, 1990, based on the identification of Carr, a jury convicted Anderson of burglary, grand larceny, criminal possession of a weapon and endangering a child. The robbery charge was not submitted to the jury.
Before Anderson could be sentenced, the records arrived and showed that Anderson was at the hospital at the time of the crime. Further, the prosecutor discovered that the hospital’s statement that there were no records of Anderson being treated referred to medical treatment and did not include methadone treatment.
The records showed that Anderson had received methadone at a treatment center in Manhattan about 10 miles from the apartment where the crime occurred and that Anderson was there at 11:32 a.m. The victim’s 911 call after the man fled the apartment was at 11:35 a.m. The prosecution obtained a record from that day bearing Anderson’s signature. A handwriting analyst compared the signature on the document with exemplars of Anderson’s handwriting and concluded Anderson had likely signed it.
In June 1990, Anderson’s attorney filed a motion to vacate the conviction and dismiss the charges. In July 1990, Anderson, who had been taken into custody after he was convicted, was released on bond.
On August 14, 1990, the Bronx County District Attorney’s office concurred with the defense request. The convictions were vacated and the charges were dismissed. Anderson later sought compensation in the New York Court of Claims, but his claim was denied.
– Maurice Possley