Gary Lawrence, one of three young Black men wrongfully convicted in 1993 of the murder of Hofstra football coach Joseph Healy who then served over twenty-four years in prison, has just had his conviction overturned. With the help of ECBAWM, one of Mr. Lawrence’s co-defendants, Christopher Ellis, had his conviction overturned in 2021.
Relying on questionable and uncertain witness testimony and a coerced confession, a jury convicted Mr. Lawrence of murder and attempted robbery. He was sentenced to two consecutive terms totaling 32 ½ years to life imprisonment. The police developed at least 11 different leads in the case. Shockingly, they kept both the leads and the investigations into each of these leads secret from Mr. Lawrence and his co-defendants. These investigations included detailed notes and in some instances polygraph examination results.
After his arrest, Mr. Lawrence was questioned for approximately 19 hours without food, drink, or sleep. Ultimately the police were able to coerce a confession from Mr. Lawrence – but the facts as laid out in the statement did not match the facts of the murder.
“This Court finds that given the information contained in the memo book notes and the unnamed homicide file, the sheer volume thereof, the new suspects, potential witnesses, and leads contained therein, the undisclosed evidence is clearly material,” the Court explained in its ruling. “The Brady violations were substantial, and because of them the People failed to provide access to meaningful witnesses and information.”
“We are pleased that the Court vacated Gary’s unjust conviction,” said ECBAWM partner Ilann M. Maazel, counsel for Mr. Lawrence. “Gary served his complete sentence in prison and on parole and has been a solid citizen ever since he was released in 2015. He has always maintained his innocence for this horrible crime. He sends his condolences to the family of Mr. Healy for the unimaginable loss they have suffered.”
“Second Hofstra conviction in 1990 killing of assistant football coach overturned, court papers show,” Newsday