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Michael Waithe

Other Brooklyn Exonerations That Included Perjury or False Accusations
On January 5, 1985, 39-year-old Delores Taylor called police to report that three men tried to burglarize her apartment in Brooklyn, New York. She identified one of the three as 22-year-old Michael Waithe, a man she suspected had stolen her car several months earlier.

Waithe was arrested and charged with burglary. He went to trial in Kings County Supreme Court in January 1987. There was no physical or forensic evidence linking Waithe to the crime. The state’s evidence rested primarily on the testimony of Taylor, who identified Waithe—a resident of the building she lived in—as one of the burglars.

Taylor told the jury that she was awakened at 4:30 A.M. by a loud crash and left her bedroom to investigate. From her foyer, she saw the figure of a man in the darkened living room. She said she screamed, “What do you want?” and turned on the light. The man ran toward the apartment door yelling, “Come on, man, let’s go.”

Taylor said she then went into her kitchen, where the light was already on, and saw a second man carrying her television toward the window. When she yelled, this man turned and dropped the television and ran past her out of the apartment door. She testified that when the man turned she looked at his face from approximately four feet away and recognized him as Waithe, who worked as a security guard at the apartment complex.

Taylor further testified that after Waithe ran from the apartment, she observed a third man on the fire escape, but could not see his face.

Waithe, a native of Barbados with no prior criminal record, testified in his own defense and denied committing the crime. His defense lawyer presented witnesses who testified that Waithe was elsewhere at the time of the crime.

Nonetheless, On January 8, 1987, Waithe was convicted of burglary. He served 18 months in prison before he was released on parole in 1988.

In 2011, Waithe went back to Barbados to attend the wedding of his daughter. When he returned, he was stopped at John F. Kennedy Airport and detained because he was a resident alien with a felony conviction. The federal government instituted deportation proceedings and Waithe was later released from detention.

Waithe’s attorney, Matthew Smalls, requested that the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit investigate the burglary case. An investigator located Taylor—the woman who said Waithe was one of the burglars—living in Georgia. Taylor, who was 69 years old, admitted that there was no burglary and that she had falsely accused Waithe. She said she was angry at him because she thought he had stolen her car months earlier.

On January 30, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson appeared in Kings County Supreme Court and filed a motion to have Waithe’s conviction vacated. The motion was granted and Thompson dismissed the charge.

“I think Mr. Waithe has already suffered enough for a crime he didn’t commit,” Thompson said. “Mr. Waithe is the victim of a wrongful conviction. I won’t let him be the victim of a wrongful deportation.”

In September 2015, Waithe filed a claim in the New York Court of Claims and settled for $250,000.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 2/6/2015
Last Updated: 4/7/2018
State:New York
Most Serious Crime:Burglary/Unlawful Entry
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1985
Sentence:1 1/2 to 4 years
Age at the date of reported crime:22
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No