NEW YORK (AP) — A New York man who was recently retried and convicted for a second time in a 1995 killing is set to get out of prison on parole as soon as next month.
The Parole Board decided this month to release Eliseo DeLeon as early as Jan. 19, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said in a statement.
DeLeon had become eligible to seek parole immediately when he was sentenced in September to 20 years to life in prison, as he’d already served about 24 years.
“Mr. DeLeon is excited to go home to his family and finally start the next chapter of his life,” his lawyer, Cary London, said in a statement Wednesday. A message seeking comment was sent to Brooklyn prosecutors.
DeLeon, 45, maintained his innocence in the killing of Fausto Cordero, who was confronted by a mugger and gunned down on a Brooklyn street while heading home from a religious confirmation party. The case got a new look in recent years because of the involvement of a once-lauded detective whose tactics came under scrutiny.
DeLeon’s conviction was overturned in 2019, leading to a retrial this summer.
His lawyers maintained he was framed by now-retired New York Police Department Detectives Louis Scarcella and then-partner Stephen Chmil. Convictions in nearly 20 cases involving Scarcella, and sometimes Chmil, have been thrown out in the past decade after they were accused of eliciting false confessions and witness identifications. The two deny any wrongdoing.
None of those cases had been retried, until DeLeon’s.
Police said DeLeon, then 18, gave a confession; his defense said detectives fabricated it. When a video camera was turned on, DeLeon said he was willing to talk but wouldn’t “put myself on tape and say I did something I didn’t do,” and he asked for a lawyer. Jurors at his initial trial never saw the video because a judge didn’t allow it.
At the retrial, Brooklyn prosecutors argued that the conviction was valid and that Scarcella and Chmil were just sidemen in a solid investigation. Prosecutors emphasized that the victim’s wife and another eyewitness returned to court to stand by their identifications of DeLeon.
He was found guilty by the same judge who had overturned his initial conviction. DeLeon, who had been freed in 2019, went back behind bars.
In the interim, he undertook a college program for medical and dental assistants, worked in food delivery, and set a wedding date for next summer with his fiancée, his lawyer said at the sentencing.
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