Newton, wrongfully convicted in ‘84, looks for justice

Newton spent 22 years in prisons including Elmira, Green Haven and Attica from 1984 to 2006.
Photo courtesy of Alan Newton

A former Bronx resident who was wrongfully imprisoned for over two decades is poised to not let a wrongful conviction get the best of him while he seeks justice.

Alan Newton, a former Bronx resident is motivated to make the most of the remainder of his life after spending 22 years in prison for crimes that he did not commit.

Alan’s story begins on the morning of June 28, 1984, when Newton, who was a Morrisania resident at the time, was in Queens with his fiance and her family.

At about 3 a.m. that morning, a woman was raped, robbed, assaulted and kidnapped in Crotona Park.

Shortly after the incident, the NYPD arrested Newton, charging him with the incident.

In court, Newton was eventually convicted of rape, robbery and assault, even after DNA and other evidence didn’t match the characteristics of the perpetrator and the crimes didn’t connect.

Newton’s fiance even passed a lie detector test, stating that he was in Queens at the time of the incident and that there was no possible way that he could have committed the alleged acts.

“The evidence didn’t match – it never did, Newton said.”

“I always stayed consistent with my innocence,” Newton said. “I never admitted to anything I didn’t do, simply because I didn’t do anything.”

As a result of the case, however, Newton would spend a good portion of his life in prison, from 1984 to 2006.

During his tenure, he spent time in Elmira, Green Haven and Attica correctional facilities, among other institutions.

Newton’s life of freedom looked to be over for good, when, in 2005, a sergeant from the NYPD Property Clerk Division randomly found his trial papers and a retest and reinvestigation of DNA results and other evidence was conducted.

Again, no crime evidence was matched or traced to Newton, but this time, his conviction was overturned.

“This is a prime example of why the public has a difficult time trusting police and authority,” said Newton. “It doesn’t matter whether there are 1 or 100 bad cops, there is still corruption that takes place in the justice system, and there have been dozens of wrongful convictions that have taken place in previous decades – something that mayor (Rudolph) Gulliani, (Mike) Bloomberg and (Bill) De Blasio’s administrations have not dealt with or thought about a solution towards.”

After his release, Newton went back to school, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from CUNY Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn in 2008.

He has intentions of going to law school and eventually helping those in similar situations to the type he went through.

Since 2006, he has filed two lawsuits against the city and state, from which he has not received any compensation.

Additionally, Newton has devoted much of his time to advocating for reforms to protect against wrongful conviction. Newton, along with Innocence Project, are currently supporting a state bill (S 5875/A 8157), which would require police departments to record interrogations to protect against false confession and to implement eyewitness identification reform as a way to prevent misidentification, which was the primary contributor to Newton’s wrongful conviction.

“More than half of New York’s DNA-based exonerations involve misidentification,” said Rebecca Brown, Innocence Project’s director of policy. “Implementing evidence-based eyewitness identification procedures, including the use of a blind administrator and obtaining a statement of confidence from the eyewitness could have very likely prevented Alan’s wrongful conviction.”

“I have great trust in our judicial system – however, when it goes wrong, it’s a terrible tragedy that results in mis-justice,” said Assemblyman Michael Benedetto.

“Too often today, especially with media coverage, people sensationalize stories and they want those responsible to be brought to justice quickly so that the public’s fears are alleviated,” he concluded.

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

More from Around NYC

>