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Wayne Martin

Other Brooklyn CIU Cases
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At about 5 p.m. on November 27, 2005, two men entered Gary’s Tire Emporium on east 96th Street in Brooklyn, New York where they fatally shot the owner, 40-year-old Donald Turner, wounded Turner’s 17-year-old son, Donald Jr., and then fatally shot an employee, 17-year-old Ricardo Davids, on the street outside the shop.

A friend of the elder Turner, Michael Walker, was in the shop at the time of the shooting and escaped unharmed. He told police that one gunman dropped his hat inside the store.

Police recovered the hat and later said they also found a knit hat on the sidewalk next to David’s body, although that hat was not visible in any of the crime scene photographs taken by police evidence technicians.

Donald Turner Jr. told police that before the shots were fired, one of the gunmen demanded that his father stop selling marijuana because Turner’s sales were hurting the gunman’s marijuana business. At that point, the power went out and the man began shooting.

DNA testing was performed on both the hat found inside the store, and the hat police said they found outside the store. The hat found outside contained a DNA profile that was linked to 35-year-old Wayne Martin, whose DNA was in the state database because of a prior robbery conviction.

Martin was arrested in Philadelphia in October 2007 for a parole violation. He was formally charged with the murders of Turner and Davids and the wounding of Turner Jr. in August 2008 after Walker identified him in a live lineup. Although two men were said have committed the crime, only Martin was ever charged.

Martin went to trial in July 2010 in Kings County Supreme Court. Walker identified Martin as the gunman. Donald Turner Jr. also identified Martin as the gunman. Turner also testified that while he was recovering from his wounds, he suffered a stroke and lost much of his memory for several months. He told the jury that his memory had since returned.

On July 7, 2010, the jury convicted Martin of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree assault. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

By 2015, attorney Justin Bonus had begun re-investigating Martin’s case at the behest of Derrick Hamilton, a former inmate and jailhouse lawyer who was convicted of murder in 1992, paroled in 2011 and exonerated in January 2015.

In July 2015, Bonus filed a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus seeking to vacate Martin’s conviction. In 2016, lawyers in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office were working on their response to Martin’s habeas petition and pulled the murder case file. The lawyers discovered that there were two different copies of the prosecution summary of the case. One version said that Walker had identified a man named Jeffrey Joseph—not Martin—as the gunman. In the other version of the summary, that paragraph was missing.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson turned turned the case over to the office’s Conviction Review Unit headed by Mark Hale to conduct a complete examination of the case.

A further review of the file turned up a police report of an interview with a witness who said that he saw an additional suspect—later identified as Allen Cameron—commit the shootings. The Conviction Review Unit determined that neither document—both of which contained evidence favorable to Martin—had been disclosed to Martin’s defense lawyer at trial.

In June 2016, Hale informed the Brooklyn State Supreme Court’s administrative judge of the discovery of the documents and began an investigation of the prosecutor at Martin’s trial, Marc Fliedner, who had recently left the District Attorney’s office. Fliedner denied that he concealed evidence from Martin’s defense.

In July 2016, Hale and Martin’s lawyers, Justin Bonus and Scott Brettschneider, appeared in Kings County Supreme Court. Hale requested that Martin’s conviction be vacated because the suppression of the police reports was an “obvious constitutional violation” that resulted in Martin’s trial being “grossly unfair.”

At the hearing, Brettschneider claimed that Cameron was the true gunman. Cameron shot and killed a police officer hours after the shooting at the Tire Emporium; Brettschneider argued that Cameron was trying to elude police because he had committed the murders at the tire store. Cameron was convicted of murdering the police officer in 2007 and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

On July 7, 2016, Justice Matthew J. D’Emic vacated Martin’s convictions. Martin was released on August 3, 2016.

On September 7, the charges against Martin were dismissed at Hale’s request.

After the charges were dismissed, District Attorney Thompson said, “Following a thorough re-examination of this case, I have concluded that a lack of reliable evidence, compounded by the utter failure to disclose exculpatory evidence at the original trial, would make it impossible to retry this case.”

“Therefore, we moved today to dismiss the indictment against Mr. Martin in the interest of justice”.

Martin was the 21st person exonerated through the efforts of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit under District Attorney Thompson.

In September 2017, Martin filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking damages.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 9/12/2016
Last Updated: 9/12/2017
State:New York
County:Kings
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Assault
Reported Crime Date:2005
Convicted:2010
Exonerated:2016
Sentence:Life without parole
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:35
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No