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Maceo Streater

Other Exonerations from New Haven County, Connecticut
At about 9 p.m. on May 8, 1990, 19-year-old Terrance Gamble was shot to death in the Newhallville neighborhood of New Haven, Connecticut. According to an autopsy, Gamble was shot five times, twice in the leg, twice in the back, and once in the hand.

Witnesses told detectives with the New Haven Police Department that Gamble had been in an argument with a group of young men just prior to the shooting. After the shooting, the witnesses said, the men had fled north, up Shelton Avenue and then down Argyle Street toward Dixwell Avenue.

Detective Joseph Howard would later say that a woman named Carolyn Cheek motioned to him while he canvassed the Dixwell area and told him to check out a red Buick Skyhawk parked outside the home of 23-year-old Maceo “Troy” Streater.

Detectives Anthony DiLullo and Joseph Greene arrived just before 9:30, and Howard introduced them to Cheek. According to their report, Cheek said she heard the shots and then saw four young Black men, including Streater, running from the direction of the gunfire. Cheek said the men got into a red car on Dixwell. According to the report, Cheek said she had known Streater for about 20 years and that she had seen him in the car on other occasions.

A 12-year-old boy, D.A., said he had seen Gamble in the moments before the shooting. Police brought him to the station to look at photos, and they later said he selected Streater’s photograph from about 150 mugshots. In an interview with detectives, D.A. said he had seen Streater and Gamble arguing in the moments before the shooting.

Separately, police took a statement from a 19-year-old Joseph Preston. According to this statement, Preston saw Gamble and Streater arguing. Preston turned away for a second, heard a gunshot, and then looked back and saw Streater shooting Gamble in the middle of the street.

Streater turned himself in on May 16, 1990, and was charged with murder and a weapons violation.

Streater’s first trial ended with a mistrial due to a hung jury. His second trial, in New Haven County Superior Court, began in January 1993, presided over by Judge Bruce Thompson. Attorney Thomas Ullman represented Streater.

D.A. testified that Greene and DiLullo had shown him about 150 photos and he had selected Streater as the person he saw in the red car arguing with Gamble. He said the argument had something to do with a dog. Ullman had sought to review D.A.’s juvenile records. Judge Thompson reviewed the records and denied the request. He said the records contained nothing “that would be probative in the issue of truth or veracity.”

Cheek testified that she did not remember giving a statement to DiLullo and Greene. She also testified that she didn’t remember meeting with them about the Gamble murder. Cheek said the initials on the statement appeared to be hers, but she didn’t know what she was signing because she was unable to read. Outside the presence of the jury, Cheek heard a recording of the statement police said she gave. Cheek said that wasn’t her on the tape.

Cheek’s testimony was halted, and she was temporarily excused. DiLullo testified about his interviews with Cheek, and how she identified Streater as one of the people running up Dixwell Avenue after the murder.

DiLullo testified that the taped statement was an “accurate and authentic” record of the interview with Cheek and contained no deletions or additions.

When Cheek’s testimony resumed, she testified that the detectives in the case hounded her, showing up at unrelated court hearings, pressuring her to give statements against Streater. “I was going through a lot, and wherever I was going, they was (sic) there, reappearing there. Every time I would go to court, they would appear there. I had to quit school because they kept harassing me at school.”

At the first trial, Cheek testified that Greene had stopped the tape recording at several places to tell her what to say. A transcript of this testimony was introduced at the second trial. Preston testified that he was 15-20 feet away at the time of the shooting. At the first trial, he had testified he was about a football field away and was unable to see the face of the person who shot Gamble.

Rasheed Shakir had told police that he had seen the argument and the red car just prior to the shooting, but he testified that he actually didn’t see the argument; he just heard about it.

Ullman sought to question Greene and DiLullo about their records as police officers. With regards to Greene, Ullman wanted to know whether any records existed regarding investigations into instances where the detective threatened or intimidated witnesses in other cases. For DiLullo, Ullman wanted to question him about pending federal lawsuits that included allegations of intimidation and misconduct. Judge Thompson excluded these lines of questioning and related evidence.

Streater testified. He denied any involvement in the shooting. He said he didn’t recall everything he did on May 8, 1990, but at some point after dark he drove in a cranberry-colored Skyhawk to First Calvary Baptist Church, also in the Newhallville neighborhood, to look for his brother, Chuck. At the church, Streater said, he saw his brother and several other people, including the Reverend Boise Kimber. Both the brother and the minister testified that Streater was at church.

The jury convicted Streater of murder and a weapons violation on February 9, 1993. He was later sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Streater appealed, arguing that Judge Thompson erred in barring Ullman from reviewing D.A.’s juvenile record and from introducing evidence challenging the credibility and investigative tactics of DiLullo and Greene. The Appellate Court of Connecticut affirmed the conviction on December 13, 1994.

On May 16, 1997, Streater filed a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The petition included statements and affidavits from Cheek, D.A., and Preston, each saying that they had testified falsely at the trial.

In Cheek’s case, she said that she wasn’t actually an eyewitness to the shooting. Because of her substance-abuse problems, Cheek said, she was susceptible to police pressure. She said she had testified she saw Streater running down the street after the shooting, but she now said she wasn’t sure that was accurate. D.A. said in his affidavit that the police pressured him to falsely testify that Streater shot Gamble.

Preston, in his statement, said that he had testified falsely about the incident. He said he wasn’t really sure what he saw that night.

Judge John Downey of New Haven County Superior Court held an evidentiary hearing on April 17, 1998. Cheek did not testify. Preston testified that he wasn’t sure who shot Gamble. “I can’t say it was him,” Preston testified. “I doubt my own credibility, you see what I’m saying, whether he did it or not.” Preston said he couldn’t remember if anyone pressured him to testify against Gamble. D.A. testified and said the police harassed him.

Judge Downey denied the petition on December 17, 1998. He said Preston’s testimony “was extraordinarily loose, equivocal and contradictory.” D.A.’s testimony was also problematic, the ruling said, because D.A. said the police had pressured him to testify that he saw Streater shoot Gamble. “A review of the trial transcript, however, reveals that [D.A.] did not testify he saw the petitioner shoot Gamble. [D.A.], in stoutly maintaining he testified falsely that he witnessed the petitioner shoot Gamble, undermined his own credibility,” Judge Downey wrote.

Streater filed two additional habeas petitions. The third petition asserted Ullman had provided ineffective assistance at trial, because he had failed to impeach Preston over his inconsistent statements. It also claimed juror misconduct. One juror knew Gamble’s mother. A second juror believed she was being followed by a member of Streater’s family and told other jurors about this incident. After hearing this account, a third juror said he believed his brakes might have been tampered with. After hearing from both the second and third jurors, Judge Thompson had removed the second juror from the case.

Judge Stanley Fuger Jr. of Tolland County Superior Court denied the third habeas petition on January 19, 2011.

Streater was released from prison in December 2017.

On September 13, 2021, Streater applied for a pardon from the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles (BOPP). On April 6, 2022, the pardon board granted Streater an absolute pardon.

The board doesn’t provide an explanation for its decisions, but Streater’s application was submitted at a time of increased awareness of the investigative methods and credibility problems of Greene and DiLullo.

Alex Taubes, Streater’s attorney said: “What is known about Joe Greene was a huge factor in Troy getting the pardon. Although the recanting and story of police coercion were heavily discounted by the courts in Troy's case, the historical context was available to the BOPP.”

For example, the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit, released a draft report in May 2022 that examined the conviction of Darryl Valentine. “This office believes we have identified plausible and verifiable evidence that would cause a reasonable person to lose confidence in the conviction due to issues of official misconduct and discredited eyewitness evidence,” said the draft, which referenced sworn testimony that Greene bribed a witness and turned the tape recorder on and off when taking a statement. The final report omitted the words “official misconduct.”

Separately, DiLullo’s misconduct played a key role in the wrongful conviction of Adam Carmon, who was exonerated on June 13, 2023. His attorneys had filed a motion for a new trial in April 2022 that asserted substantial misconduct in his case, including evidence that DiLullo testified falsely.

In January 2023, Streater won a special election to become the alderman for the Newhallville neighborhood in north New Haven. Many of his campaign volunteers were people who had been formerly incarcerated. Streater told the New Haven Independent: ​“We need to focus on this gun violence, strong. We have to eradicate it. We also need to know that this is not just a ward thing. It’s a complete city thing.”

In January 2024, Streater filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the City of New Haven and several of its police officers, seeking compensation for his wrongful conviction.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 10/30/2023
Last Updated: 3/11/2024
County:New Haven
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Weapon Possession or Sale
Reported Crime Date:1990
Sentence:35 years
Age at the date of reported crime:23
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No