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Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter, Wrongly Convicted Boxer, Passes Away

On April 20, 2014, Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter died. Carter was a famed professional boxer in the 1960s who fought for the middleweight championship in 1964.

In 1966, Carter was arrested for the murder of three people at the LaFayette Bar and Grill in New Jersey.

Carter was convicted in 1967 for the three murders, and was sentenced to three life sentences. That decision was actually overturned, but he was convicted again in 1976 for the same crime.

Immediately following his convictions, Carter stated that he was innocent. The circumstances of his conviction were highly suspicious.

A Triple Murder in New Jersey

On the night of the murders at the LaFayette, Carter and a friend were pulled over by police because Carter was driving a white sedan and both Carter and his friend were black. The shooters were both black and drove a white sedan. That was where the similarities ended.

No witness from the murder scene identified Carter or the friend as the shooters. Indeed, the descriptions the witnesses gave were dramatically different from Carter’s physical stature.

Problems During His Trial

During the 1967 trial, Carter brought three witnesses to support his alibi that he was not anywhere near the LaFayette at the time of the murder.

Alternatively, the prosecution brought forward two burglars with long rap sheets, who were in the neighborhood to burglarize a nearby business, to testify that Carter was at the LaFayette.

Additionally, the prosecution failed to assert any motive for why Carter, a highly successful professional boxer, would commit the crime.

Mr. Carter was convicted and sentenced to 30 years to life. His friend who was in his car was sentenced 15 years to life.

Post-Conviction Hope

While in prison, Carter reviewed law books in the prison library and filed appeal after appeal, each unsuccessful. In 1974, the two witnesses who identified Carter recanted (or reversed) their testimony.

The witnesses said that the detectives had pressured them into making a false statement in trial.

Following the recanted testimony, the New Jersey State Supreme Court overturned the conviction. However, Carter was again convicted in 1976 in a retrial.

Amazingly, one of the witnesses who had recanted his testimony, changed his mind and said that Carter was indeed the murderer at LaFayette.

Federal Appeal and Release

In 1985, a Federal District Court heard Carter’s appeal. The judge, J. Lee Sorkin, found that racist theories “fatally infected the trial” and that the prosecution withheld key evidence.

The judge therefore overturned the decision, releasing Carter. Carter spent 19 years in prison until being finally released.

Advocacy for Defendants

In 2004, Carter founded Innocence International to advocate for wrongly convicted defendants. He also lectured widely about inequalities in the American justice system.

The troubles that Carter faced only further demonstrate the importance of strong criminal defense counsel. Criminal charges at any level can have very serious consequences.

It is critical to obtain guidance from experienced criminal lawyers to protect your rights.

If you are currently facing criminal charges, contact criminal lawyer Miami at Law Offices of Paul J. Donnelly, P.A. for help today at 305-757-331.

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