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Terence Worthy

Other Essex County, New Jersey Exonerations
On June 7, 2003, police in Newark, New Jersey arrested 36-year-old Terence Worthy and two other men—James Mitchell and Bernard Briley—on charges of robbing two men on West Kinney Street in Newark.

Officers Darius Smith, Lawrence Furlow, Tyrone Dudley, and Ismael Lespier reported that while on patrol, they saw two men whom they later identified as Briley and Mitchell, robbing two men at gunpoint. The officers said they chased the men on foot.

The officers said that Mitchell ran around a corner and got into a truck. He was arrested there along with Worthy, whom the officers said was in the driver’s seat. Briley, they said, was caught a few blocks away after a foot chase.

All three were charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, and weapons offenses. The officers said they found a handgun that had been discarded near a garbage dumpster.

Two days later, Worthy posed as another jail inmate who was being released and walked out of the Essex County Jail. He was later re-captured and charged with escape.

On March 12, 2004, Worthy pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and sentenced to seven years in prison. He also pled guilty to escape, and was sentenced to five years in prison to be served concurrently with the seven-year term.

In October 2004, officers Furlow and Smith were indicted on charges of stealing money from drug dealers and people who knew them. Their indictments were the result of a widespread investigation of corruption in the Newark police department spurred by allegations that officers robbed dealers and prostitutes, resold drugs, and sold guns over a three-year period. Officer Dudley admitted in court that he stole money from drug dealers, and he identified seven other officers, including Furlow and Smith, who did the same. Dudley also identified officer Lespier as being involved.

When Worthy learned of the investigation and charges, his attorney filed a motion seeking a new trial. The motion claimed that the officers had framed Worthy as an excuse to steal his money. The motion asserted that his defense lawyer had tried to locate the two victims that police said Worthy, Briley, and Mitchell had robbed, but the addresses listed for them in the arrest report were non-existent. The motion said Worthy pled guilty because it was his word against that of the officers.

On January 21, 2005, the prosecution consented to vacating the conviction for possession of a firearm, and the charge was dismissed.

Mitchell had never appeared for his arraignment and was never prosecuted. Briley pled not guilty. His case also was never prosecuted and was dismissed by the prosecution in March 2006.

Ultimately, officer Dudley pled guilty and a jury convicted Smith. Furlow went to trial twice, but mistrials were declared both times when the juries were unable to reach a unanimous verdict. The charges against him were subsequently dismissed. Lespier was never charged.

Worthy later filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, but it was dismissed.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 12/11/2017
State:New Jersey
Most Serious Crime:Weapon Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2003
Sentence:7 years
Age at the date of reported crime:36
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No