NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Queens man has spent more than half his life in prison for a murder he said he didn’t commit.
Benjamin Anderson, 41, has already served 21 years of a 22-to-life sentence.
“I’ve been fighting for 21 years, I’ve been saying I’m innocent for 21 years and no one has been listening to me at all,” Anderson told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “It’s been a struggle for me, it’s really hard for me in here.”
Anderson was convicted of being the lookout in a 1993 murder-robbery of a Queens bodega owner.
“I was not there, I am not a murderer,” Anderson said.
The murder-robbery took place at the New Giant Fruit Market in Jamaica on Aug. 20, 1993. Owner John Cho was shot to death. Three men were arrested: Anderson, and two other Queens men, Richard Spence and Charazz York. Spence, the convicted shooter, and York were caught on the store’s surveillance video and pleaded guilty. Anderson, who was not on the tape, was convicted after trial.
Anderson claims he was coerced to confess. His alibi witnesses were ignored and the shooter, the main witness putting him at the crime scene, has apparently recanted, Rivera reported.
Proceedings are underway in Queens Criminal Court on whether to overturn his conviction, and Judge Evelyn L. Braun will decide in July if the case should be reopened.
“I will have my actual innocence heard,” Anderson said.
The Queens District Attorney’s Office is fighting to keep Anderson in prison, saying his confession isn’t false, his alibi witnesses are lying and the shooter’s recantation can’t be trusted, Rivera reported.
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