Convicted of second-degree murder in New York County in 1984, Lucius Mason was exonerated five years later after two men testified that they were involved in orchestrating the killing and that Mason had not been the killer.
Mason’s conviction on February 7, 1984, arose out of his participation in a fistfight. Two days after the fight occurred, the brother of the other combatant was murdered. The surviving brother accused Mason of the crime, even though the witnesses present were unable to positively identify the killer.
After Mason’s conviction, an unrelated federal case produced two government witnesses who agreed to testify in exchange for immunity. They admitted to ordering the murder for which Mason was convicted and providing the weapon. Both asserted that Mason was not the killer.
Upon learning of this testimony, Mason’s attorney filed a motion to set aside his conviction. The New York City district attorney joined in the motion to dismiss the charges against Mason. Mason was released from custody and all charges were dropped on July 19, 1988, after he had served five and a half years in prison.
– Researched by Carling Spelhaug
The National Registry of Exonerations is a project of the Newkirk Center for Science & Society at University of California Irvine, the University of Michigan Law School and Michigan State University College of Law. It was founded in 2012 in conjunction with the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. The Registry provides detailed information about every known exoneration in the United States since 1989—cases in which a person was wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all the charges based on new evidence of innocence. The Registry also maintains a more limited database of known exonerations prior to 1989.
We welcome new information from any source about exonerations already on our list and about cases not in the Registry that might be exonerations.