NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Prosecutors are appealing a judge’s decision to throw out a nearly 25-year-old conviction in a deadly tourist mugging that symbolized a dangerous time in New York City.
Johnny Hincapie was in a Manhattan court Monday for a brief status update after being freed last month.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office had filed notice it plans to appeal the decision that overturned Hincapie’s murder conviction and called for a new trial.
He was among seven men convicted in the 1990 death of Brian Watkins of Provo, Utah. Watkins was stabbed while defending his parents from a subway mugging.
Hincapie says he was only a bystander who was coerced into a false confession.
He says he’s a bit disheartened by prosecutors’ appeal but feels the evidence underlying the judge’s decision will speak for itself.
Watkins, 22, was visiting New York with his family from Utah to see the US Open that Labor Day weekend. He and his parents were heading to dinner when they were jumped by a group of youths looking to rob people to get money to go to a nearby dance hall, police said.
After his father was slashed and robbed of $200 and his mother was punched and kicked, Watkins was stabbed in the chest yet chased the attackers up two stairways before collapsing under a turnstile. He later died.
“Why did they do this to me?” he said, according to his father’s testimony at the trial of Hincapie and several co-defendants. “We’re just here to have a good time.”
Another defendant was accused of actually stabbing Watkins, but authorities said the whole group bore responsibility for his death.
The trial was most memorable for the defense offered by the accused stabber, who claimed the victim ran into his knife.
The killing became a symbol of random violence in a city that was reeling from it, after the 1989 rape and beating of a woman known as the Central Park jogger and a spate of bloodshed in the summer of 1990. Watkins’ death — one of a record-setting 2,245 in 1990, compared to 333 last year — brought a public plea from Watkins’ family for better subway safety and helped prompt then-Mayor David Dinkins to propose a program designed to increase police protection.
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