In June 1990, a man fired a machine gun into a car in Brooklyn, New York, killing the two men inside.
A few days later, Dana Garner came forward, saying he saw Jeffrey Blake fire into the passenger side of the car.
Blake said he was on his lunch break at the time of the shootings. His sister testified that he ate lunch at her apartment, and co-workers testified that he returned to work at 2 p.m., only 15 minutes after the shooting. Forensic evidence indicated that most of the bullets were fired into the driver’s side of the car, not the passenger’s side.
The prosecution’s case relied heavily on Garner’s testimony, and in May 1991, a jury convicted Blake of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon. He was sentenced to 36-years-to-life in prison.
In 1993, Garner recanted his testimony to defense investigators. Later, as a witness at Blake’s appeal, he invoked his privilege against self incrimination and refused to testify. Defense investigators tracked down the woman who had been Garner’s girlfriend at the time of the crime and who he claimed had also witnessed the shootings. She swore that she had not witnessed the killings. The defense discovered evidence that Garner was not even in New York on the day of the shooting.
Blake had exhausted his appeals, so his attorney contacted the District Attorney’s Office, which agreed to reinvestigate Blake’s case. In October 1998, the District Attorney’s Office joined in a motion filed by Blake’s attorney to set aside the conviction. The motion was granted, and the prosecution dropped the charges.
Blake filed a federal wrongful conviction lawsuit and during Garner's deposition, he testified that police fed him details of the double murder and pressured him to implicate Blake. Garner also testified that when he view a lineup, police directed him to Blake so he could pick him out. The lawsuit was settled in 2007 for $1.2 million.
- Stephanie Denzel