Three Individuals Are Exonerated After Spending 18 Years Imprisoned

Michael Cosme, Devon Ayers, and Carlos Perez were exonerated today after spending 18 years imprisoned following convictions in 1997. The convictions stemmed from two murders-of Baithe Diop, a Senegalese livery cab driver, and Denise Raymond, a Federal Express executive-that the government argued was perpetrated by Mr. Cosme, Mr. Ayers, and Mr. Perez. The convictions for the Diop homicide were vacated last December, after two former gang members confessed to the killing. Because Mr. Cosme, Mr. Ayers, and Mr. Perez were tried simultaneously for both the Raymond and the Diop homicides, on the theory that the murders were part of a single conspiracy, once the Diop homicide convictions were vacated, the government conceded in January of this year that spillover prejudice required vacatur of the Raymond homicide convictions as well. ECBA also argued that the Raymond homicide convictions should be vacated because Mr. Cosme, Mr. Ayers, and Mr. Perez are actually innocent because the government violated their constitutional rights by suppressing materially exculpatory evidence. While the three were released from jail in January, the indictments were not dismissed until today. Over the last nine months, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office re-investigated the cases and conducted DNA testing on the physical evidence. The District Attorney’s Office received the final results of that DNA testing today and agreed to dismiss the indictments. Mr. Cosme is represented by ECBA’s Earl S. Ward, Elizabeth S. Saylor, and Eisha Jain, along with co-counsel Julia Kuan of Romano & Kuan.

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