Roy Brown, who was freed from prison last year for a murder he did not commit, has won a significant ruling in his lawsuit against New York State. Court of Claims Judge Nicholas Midey has ruled the State basically has no case and now the only question before him is how much compensation Brown deserves for spending 15 years in prison.
Brown's story reads like a Hollywood movie. Convicted in 1992 for the murder of Cayuga County social worker Sabina Kulakowski, Brown spent 15 years behind bars trying to prove his innocence. Not only did Brown and his lawyers succeed in exonerating him through DNA, Brown was actually able to prove the real murderer was Barry Bench. Bench committed suicide several years ago.
Brown is suing the state for at least $5 million. According to the Court of Claims ruling, the state's defense hinged on his alleged jailhouse confession to Gordon Wiggins who Brown says lied on the stand. Judge Midey called Wiggin's claim "uncorroborated and unreliable". Midey told the State Attorney General, he will only consider compensatory damages.
When Roy Brown versus New York goes to trial on December 8th, Brown's lawyers will try to prove the state had many opportunities to correct Brown's wrongful conviction but chose not to. They will point to the fact that State Police forensic dentist Lowell Levine said bite marks on Kulakowski's body did not match Browns teeth. They will also claim prosectors withheld police affidavits implicating Barry Bench and delayed DNA testing which worsened Brown's health problems. Brown says he was on death's door due to liver failure when he was freed and a transplant saved his life.
"We're talking how these errors impacted Roy Brown." says attorney Katy Karlovitz, "He experienced a number of additional years of incarceration after it could have been corrected."
John Milgrim, spokesman for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, would only say they are "reviewing the decision."
Brown reacted to Midey's decision by telling Action News, "Our whole democracy in this country is based on freedom. They took that from me. There is no price."