You are reading

Man Released After Being Incarcerated for 25 Years, Judge Overturns Murder Conviction

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz with a team of investigators and staff from the Office’s Conviction Integrity Unit visiting the crime scene where a 70-year-old woman was stabbed to death in 1995 on the grounds of the Ravenswood Houses.

Nov. 20, 2020 By Allie Griffin

An innocent man who had been incarcerated for more than a quarter century was released from prison after a Queens judge tossed his 1995 murder conviction Thursday.

Ernest “Jaythan” Kendrick became a free man after Queens Supreme Court Justice Joseph Zayas vacated the murder conviction and dismissed the indictment charging him with the fatal stabbing of a 70-year-old woman in Long Island City nearly 26 years ago.

The court overturned the conviction due to newly discovered witnesses and DNA evidence.

New witness testimony contradicted previous witness accounts in the case, and new DNA evidence failed to link Kendrick to the victim, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said.

Katz filed a joint motion with the defense to vacate the murder conviction of Kendrick.

Kendrick was convicted of stabbing Josephine Sanchez, 70, twice in the back and running off with her purse on the grounds of the Ravenswood Houses on Nov. 30, 1994.

He was picked up by police several hours after the murder because he loosely fit the description of the suspect that a 10-year-old witness gave to police, Katz said.

However, the child initially identified someone else in an in-person lineup that included Kendrick, according to Katz. The 10-year-old changed his selection to Kendrick after leaving the viewing room and under “disputed circumstances,” she said.

A second witness told police that he saw Kendrick fleeing the murder scene with a black purse under his arm, according to court records.

Investigators found a black purse inside Kendrick’s home — which he shared with a woman — and the 10-year-old witness said it looked similar to the purse that was stolen from Sanchez.

The purse, however, did not contain the victim’s DNA when it was recently tested. Such testing was not available in 1995.

Four new witnesses also undermine the credibility of the second witness’ testimony, she said.

One new witness who has come forward saw the assailant flee in the opposite direction than the second witness had said and another new witness — whose apartment the second witness claimed to have been visiting — said she was not at home at the time the second witness stated he was with her.

Taken together, Katz said, these new witnesses and the exculpatory DNA results create a reasonable probability that the jury would have acquitted Kendrick.

Justice Zayas agreed and threw out Kendrick’s conviction Thursday. Kendrick was subsequently released.

His case was re-investigated by the DA’s Conviction Integrity Unity (CIU), which Katz created at the start of the year. It was submitted to CIU by the Innocence Project and WilmerHale Law Firm.

“This case is a prime example of why the CIU exists,” Katz said. “We can’t stand idly by when new evidence is presented that undermines confidence in an original jury verdict.”

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Gunman who fired shots at the Ravenswood Houses in Long Island City remains at large: NYPD

Police from the 114th Precinct in Astoria and PSA 9 are continuing their search for a gunman who allegedly opened fire at the Ravenswood Houses in Long Island City last month.

The incident occurred during the early morning hours of Wednesday, Jan. 18, when officers responded to a 911 call and a ShotSpotter activation for multiple shots fired at 21-25 35 Ave. at the Ravenswood Houses NYCHA complex just after 2 a.m., according to authorities.

Popular places where you can watch the Super Bowl in Queens

Feb. 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

Hey, football fans! Game time is fast approaching, and across the city and here in Queens, you can feel the excitement brewing as the two teams prepare to take the field on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 12. So, kick back and watch the big game, and don’t miss Rihanna’s exciting performance during halftime. 

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Long Island City teen sentenced in fatal shooting of ‘beloved’ school teacher at Queensbridge Houses in 2020: DA

A Long Island City man on Friday, Jan. 28, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the 2020 fatal shooting of a public school social studies teacher who was out walking his dog when he was caught in the crossfire during a confrontation between gang rivals in broad daylight, just blocks from his home, according to Queens District Attorney’s office.

Ike Ford, 19, of 12th Street, in Long Island City, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder. The teacher, George Rosa, 53, was shot in his abdomen by a stray bullet fired by Ford, who was just 17 years old at the time of the shooting but was sentenced as an adult given the severity of the crime, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.