In February 1982, a woman was attacked by two masked men outside her Brooklyn, New York apartment. The men beat her, tied her up, robbed her, and set her on fire.
The victim believed that Calvin Boyette, a neighbor, might have been involved, but due to injuries to her eyes, her identification of him was delayed. Her identification became more certain over time, and several months later she identified Boyette in a photo lineup.
Boyette presented evidence that he was in Virginia at the time of the crime. Boyette’s first trial, in early 1984, ended in a hung jury. After his second trial in October 1984, a jury convicted Boyette of attempted murder, armed robbery, and arson and he was sentenced to 12.5 to 25 years.
Shortly after his conviction, Boyette’s sister discovered that the prosecution concealed a police report stating that the police had received an anonymous tip that someone other than Boyette was involved. In addition, the prosecution failed to disclose to the defense evidence that could have been used to impeach the prosecution’s witnesses, including notes that Boyette did not match the victim’s initial description of her attackers.
In April 2001, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated Boyette’s conviction based on these constitutional violations, and granted him a new trial. Boyette was released in June 2001, after the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office decided not to retry him.
In 2005, Boyette settled a wrongful conviction lawsuit against the City of New York for $350,000.
- Stephanie Denzel