NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Bronx District Attorney has moved to vacate the murder conviction of a man who has spent the last six years behind bars.
Darcel Clark says Steven Odiase wasn’t given a fair trial, so today he was set free. The 31-year-old Bronx man managed a faint smile as he transitioned from convicted killer to free man.
Odiase was serving 25-years-to-life until the new DA joined the defense in requesting his release from prison.
He was met with applause from well-wishers outside court Monday as he dashed off to meet his family, and is scheduled for a final exoneration hearing in June.
“It felt really good because we’ve been hurting for a long time,” sister Kalima said. “We’re very, very happy.”
Clark has followed Brooklyn and Manhattan’s example of re-examining old cases for possible errors. Odiase’s attorneys have insisted he was not at the scene of a 2009 street killing, so Clark agreed to take a second look.
“It’s important because it shows this office is committed to looking at problematic convictions which they’ve done here,” defense attorney Pierre Sussman said Monday.
In this case, the conviction was tainted by an altered police report — a so-called DD5 — given to the defense as required by law, but mysteriously redacted to hide the fact that a witness described someone who didn’t look like the defendant.
He is now out, without bail, and could be clear of all charges when he returns to court in June.
This is Clark’s second conviction reversal since taking office. CBS2’s Lou Young reports that the prosecutor responsible for the original case and the altered police report is no longer with the office.