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Lazaro Burt

Other New York Murder Cases with Mistaken Witness Identifications
https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/PublishingImages/Lazaro_Burt%20(1).jpg
In August 1992, 27-year-old Wifredo Cesareo was shot and killed in Queens, New York.

Cesareo’s girlfriend, Lissette Saillant, told police the incident started earlier when a man tried to grope her.  When Cesareo confronted the man, he was shot.

Burt went to trial in Queens County Supreme Court in March 1994. Saillant testified and identified him as the gunman. On March 9, 1994, Burt was convicted of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 25-years-to-life.
 
After the conviction, Saillant told police she was high when she identified Burt, that she had made a mistake, and that she had since seen the real killer on the street – but she was told that it was too late.

In May 2002, another witness, Carl Drummond, identified the real gunman as Jarrett Smith.  Drummond had not testified at the trial because he feared for the safety of his family.  Based on this new testimony, the prosecution and defense filed a joint motion to vacate Burt’s conviction and the charges dismissed.  He was released in September 2002.

Burt filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of New York which was settled for $248,000. In addition, Burt was awarded $775,000 by the New York Court of Claims.

– Maurice Possley

Report an error or add more information about this case.

Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 12/11/2016
State:New York
County:Queens
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1992
Convicted:1994
Exonerated:2002
Sentence:25 to Life
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:20
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No