Innocent Man Freed  after Serving 25 Years

Innocent Man Freed after Serving 25 Years

Photos Courtesy of DA Katz’s Office

Photographs from around the time of the 1994 homicide, shows the resemblance between Garfield Brown (left) and Samuel Brownridge.

By Forum Staff

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz on Tuesday announced the filing of a joint motion to vacate the murder conviction of Samuel Brownridge, who was incarcerated for more than 25 years for a crime that he did not commit.

Brownridge was convicted based on two eyewitness identifications. The motion filed Tuesday details new evidence that both undermines the reliability of those eyewitness identifications and implicates a violent felon, Garfield Brown, as the actual shooter in the 1994 execution-style murder Darryle Adams.

Adams, 32, was shot and killed in his St. Albans neighborhood on the night of March 7, 1994. Adams was confronted by a group of four men, one of whom was in a wheelchair. The man in the wheelchair struck the victim in the head with a bottle and another member of the group then shot him in the head. There was no apparent motive for the crime.

Several days later, Brownridge was identified as the shooter by a witness who had been threatened by the group only moments earlier and then witnessed the shooting. Another man who claimed to have seen the shooting from a distance also identified Brownridge. No physical evidence linked Brownridge to the crime. Brownridge consistently asserted his innocence of the murder and has claimed that he was at home with his girlfriend and child at the time of the shooting.

Brownridge, represented by Donna Aldea of the law firm Barkett, Epstein, Kearon, Aldea, & Loturco, LLP, presented substantial new evidence of innocence to the Conviction Integrity Unit. The CIU then conducted its own investigation and reached the conclusion that Brownridge is actually innocent. According to the motion filed Tuesday, the jury that convicted Brownridge did not hear the following evidence that would have changed the outcome of the trial:

  • Three men—Darren Lee, Dean Hoskins and Mark Taylor—have admitted that they were present when Adams was murdered and that Garfield Brown was the shooter.
  • Garfield Brown was seen by a witness together with Lee, Hoskins, and Taylor on the night of the murder near where Adams was shot.
  • Mark Taylor made a statement to 2 other men, on the night of the murder that Garfield Brown had shot someone.
  • Garfield Brown confessed to a friend in March 1994 that he committed a murder on a back street in St. Albans and gave details consistent with the crime.
  • Garfield Brown was a violent felon who was later killed by police after he appeared on “America’s Most Wanted” in connection with other murders in New York and Connecticut.
  • Garfield Brown more closely resembled an eyewitness description of a man in his mid-twenties with a short fade haircut. By contrast, Brownridge was only 18 and did not have his hair short on the sides.

“This is a profoundly poignant day for Mr. Brownridge. After decades of voicing his innocence, this man who served 25 years for a crime he did not commit will finally be unencumbered by this miscarriage of justice,” Katz said.


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