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Todd McCord

Other New York Murder Cases with Mistaken Witness Identifications
At 10:30 a.m. on October 6, 1986, four men, one armed with a shotgun, entered a Nabisco Company warehouse in Queens County, New York, and threatened several employees in an attempt to steal cash receipts. When one of the employees managed to flee, the robbers fled as well, driving off in a van.

Police were called and a description of the van was broadcast over the police radio. At 10:55 a.m., two officers in a squad car spotted the van and a high-speed chase ensued. The chase ended when the van crashed into a car, killing 74-year-old Josephine Rizzo, a passenger in the car.

Lewis Slaughter was arrested on the scene, but all three others managed to escape. One of the Nabisco employees told police that the man holding a shotgun resembled Eric McCord, a former warehouse employee. Ten days after the crime, police arrested McCord’s 21-year-old brother, Todd, and found he was carrying a handgun and wearing a bulletproof vest. After two warehouse workers identified him in a lineup as the gunman, Todd McCord was charged with felony murder, attempted robbery and criminal possession of a weapon.

McCord went to trial in Queens County Supreme Court in October 1987. The two warehouse workers identified him as the gunman. McCord’s lawyer called alibi witnesses who testified that McCord was elsewhere at the time of the attempted robbery.

On November 10, 1987, a jury convicted McCord of second degree murder, attempted robbery and criminal possession of a weapon. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Slaughter also was convicted of second degree murder and attempted robbery and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

McCord’s conviction was upheld in 1990 by the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division. In 1993, McCord wrote a lengthy letter to the Queens County District Attorney’s Office claiming he was innocent of the crime. McCord presented three affidavits supporting his claim. One was from a woman who said that at 7:30 a.m. on the day of the crime, Lewis Slaughter, Clifton Waters and two other men came to her home to recruit her husband to take part in a robbery of the Nabisco Company warehouse. The woman said that she objected and ordered the men to leave the house. She said she told her husband “that he better not go with them or I will leave him.”

The woman said that at about noon that same day, Waters came back to her home “really nervous stating that him and Lewis Slaughter was in the van while the cops were chasing if after they tried to rob the Nabisco Co. and that Lewis accidentally crashed his van into another car when the cops were chasing them.” She said that Waters told her that he thought Slaughter was arrested. The woman said she ordered Waters to leave and he did.

Three weeks later, the woman said in the affidavit, Waters came back to the house “to apologize” for coming to the house with the others to try to get her husband to take part in the robbery. “Waters then stated the cops had mistaken(ly) arrested a guy named Todd McCord.” The woman said she immediately realized that Todd McCord was a younger brother to Neal McCord, who had formerly dated an acquaintance of the woman.

The woman said that “at that point, I noticed that Clifton Waters and Todd McCord looked just alike.” The woman said she tried to find Neal McCord, but could not locate him. Four months later, Waters was fatally shot in the vestibule of his apartment building.

The woman said that in October 1992, her husband found Neal McCord and told him of the conversations with Waters. She said that at the time she did not come forward “in fear for the safety of the family” from the others who were involved in the robbery attempt but were not apprehended. She said she feared she or her husband would be charged with something because of the robbery discussion that occurred in her home on the day of the crime.

A private investigator working on behalf of McCord filed an affidavit describing an interview with Bernardine Waters, who was Clifton Water’s sister and who had a child with Lewis Slaughter. She said that after the attempted robbery, she came to believe that Clifton committed the crime with Lewis Slaughter, and two other men. Bernardine Waters told the investigator that Slaughter told her he had never met McCord.

Michael Kirkland, a friend of Slaughter, said in an affidavit that in 1987, while Slaughter was awaiting trial, he told Kirkland that McCord “had nothing to do with the crime.”

The Queens County District Attorney’s office interviewed the witnesses and conducted a re-investigation of the case over several months. New York Supreme Court Justice Randall Eng held a hearing in March 1994. A man who was described only as “Witness #1” testified after being granted immunity in return for his testimony. The witness said he was one of the robbers who had not been charged in the case at the time of the crime. By then, the five year statute of limitations on robbery had expired. The witness testified that McCord was not involved in the crime.

On March 17, 1994, Justice Eng said the testimony of Witness #1 was credible and left “no doubt as to (McCord’s) non-participation in any of the crimes for which was convicted.”

The judge noted in a written decision that at the conclusion of the hearing, the prosecutor said, “(T)he People concede the defendant’s motion and we ask the court to grant the motion.” After the convictions were vacated, the prosecutor dismissed the charges and McCord was released.

McCord filed a claim with the New York Court of Claims seeking compensation. The claim was settled for $350,000 in 2000.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 3/11/2015
State:New York
County:Queens
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Robbery, Gun Possession or Sale
Reported Crime Date:1986
Convicted:1987
Exonerated:1994
Sentence:25 years to life
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:21
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No