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Josiah Galloway

Other Nassau County CIU Exonerations
At about 1:10 a.m. on May 15, 2008, Jorge Anyosa and Welmer Hernandez were in their cabs waiting for fares near the Long Island Rail Road station in Hempstead, New York.  Hernandez was double-parked, and a car pulled up behind him and honked for Hernandez to move. He made a U-turn to let the car pass, but instead of pulling ahead, the driver got out and began arguing with and cursing at Hernandez and at Anyosa. Anyosa got out of his cab and tried to defuse the situation, saying, “We don’t want to have a problem.” Before getting back in his car and driving off, the man made a shooting gesture with his fingers.

Anyosa, who was thirty-eight, received a dispatch call about five minutes later and left, but when no one was at the pick-up location, he returned to the train station. Hernandez was gone. While Anyosa sat waiting in his cab, the man he had argued with earlier returned. He pulled up beside Anyosa, taunted him, and then pulled out a black gun and shot him in the face.

When Hernandez returned about five minutes later, he found Anyosa standing by his cab and bleeding.

Anyosa was in the hospital for nine days; his jaw was wired shut for nine weeks. Four days after the shooting, he met with a sketch artist, who created a composite drawing.  The drawing depictied an African-American man, between the ages of 25 and 30, with close-shaved hair and no distinguishing facial features, such as a beard, scars, tattoos, or missing teeth. Anyosa said the man was about 5 feet 10 inches tall. Although Hernandez didn’t see the shooting, his description of the man they had argued with was similar.

Anyosa initially told police that he believed the gunman was driving a gray Toyota sedan with tinted windows. At first, Hernandez also said the car was a Toyota, but without tinted windows. Later he told police that it might have been a Mazda.

On the night of June 5, 2008, Hempstead police stopped 21-year-old Josiah Galloway and his friend, Robert Ogletree, on unrelated robbery charges. Ogletree was driving a silver Honda that belonged to his girlfriend.

They were split up for questioning, which continued overnight. At some point in the morning of June 6, the investigation veered from the robbery into other topics. Ogletree told police that Galloway had said that in May he had gotten in an argument with a cab driver while Galloway was driving his own girlfriend’s car.

After Ogletree gave his statement, Hernandez and Anyosa came to look at photos of potential suspects. Each picked Galloway as the man who shot Anyosa. Two months later, both separately viewed a live lineup and they again identified Galloway.

At trial in Nassau County District Court in March 2009, Hernandez testified that Galloway was the man they had argued with, and Anyosa testified that Galloway was the man who shot him. They acknowledged that Galloway did not match their initial descriptions. Galloway was 5 feet five inches tall, nearly a half a foot shorter than originally described. In addition, his hair at the time of the photo array was not close-shaved but was in cornrows or short dreads; and he was visibly missing a front tooth.

The prosecution also called Ogletree, but he recanted his statement. He said police threatened him with charges and told him that Galloway had fingered him as the gunman.

The defense presented evidence that the police lineups were flawed. The initial photo array used a picture of Galloway with close-shaved hair that had been taken more than a year before the shooting. In addition, during the live lineup, although Galloway and the fillers were all sitting down, police made Galloway sit on two telephone books to appear taller.

Galloway’s mother and girlfriend both testified for the defense that Galloway was at home with them on the night of the shooting. They said they remembered the day because it was a relative’s birthday.

Galloway testified and denied involvement in the shooting, as well as the argument that preceded it. He said he was home that night. In addition, he said he had very limited access to his girlfriend’s car – a mint green Mazda – and that he didn’t drive at night because of his poor vision.

A jury in Nassau County District Court convicted Galloway on March 9, 2009 of second-degree attempted murder, two counts of assault, criminal use of a firearm, and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

Galloway always maintained his innocence. At his sentencing, he said, “I sit in jail sometimes and I just ask myself, ‘How could this be happening to me?’”

He was sentenced to the maximum penalty the judge could impose - 25 years in prison. Judge Alan Honorof said the jury reached a sound decision, and in imposing his sentence said society needed to be protected from Galloway. Kathleen Rice, the Nassau County District Attorney at the time, said in a press release, “This was a shockingly cold-blooded and violent attack against an innocent man.”

In 2018, Galloway’s attorney, Joseph DeFelice, began drafting an appeal, arguing the evidence was insufficient. Galloway didn’t fit the witnesses’ description and Ogletree had recanted. Moreover, Galloway not only rarely drove, but didn’t drive at night, and the car he had the clearest access to didn’t match the gunman’s car. In addition, alibi witnesses said he was at home.

But DeFelice never finished the motion. Unbeknownst to him, the conviction integrity unit in the Nassau County District Attorney’s office had received a tip in July that Galloway was in prison for another man’s crime.

CIU investigators interviewed witnesses who said the real gunman had confessed to them.

Deputy District Attorney Sheryl Anania, head of the conviction integrity unit, and District Attorney Madeline Singas filed a motion requesting that Galloway’s convictions be vacated and the charges be dismissed. The motion was granted on September 13, 2018 by Nassau County Supervising Judge Teresa Corrigan.

Upon his release, Galloway said “What’s in the dark comes to the light eventually.” DeFelice said the case underscored the problems with misidentification. “Here we had two people that identified him at the trial,” he said. “The descriptions really didn't match and yet he was convicted.”

The prosecution said that because the statute of limitations in New York on the charges expired five years after the incident, the real gunman could not charged. However, he was in prison in New York for another conviction.

In 2019, attorney Gabriel Harvis filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Galloway in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Harvis also filed a claim for compensation in the New York State Court of Claims which was settled in 2021 for $1.8 million.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 10/4/2018
Last Updated: 3/7/2024
State:New York
Most Serious Crime:Attempted Murder
Additional Convictions:Assault, Illegal Use of a Weapon
Reported Crime Date:2008
Sentence:25 years
Age at the date of reported crime:21
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No