Volume 75, Number 20 | October 05 - 11, 2005

Villager photo by Jefferson Siegel

From left, attorney Vanessa Potkin, Barry Gibbs and attorney Barry Scheck, co-founder and co-director of the Innocence Project, at press conference last week hailing Gibbs’s release after 19 years in jail.

Guilty until proven innocent by DNA

Last Thursday, Barry Gibbs, a former Brooklyn postal worker, was released from jail after the only eyewitness to identify him in a murder case almost 20 years ago recanted his testimony, admitting he had been coerced to falsely testify by former New York Police Department detective Louis Eppolito.

Gibbs was arrested in 1986 in the murder of a Brooklyn woman whose body was found near the Belt Parkway. He always maintained he was innocent.

Eppolito and another former N.Y.P.D. detective were arrested in Las Vegas in March on federal charges of being professional hit men. They have been dubbed the “Mafia cops” by the tabloid newspapers for allegedly working for organized crime while on the force.

The Innocence Project, located at 100 Fifth Ave., is part of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. It was founded in 1992 by civil rights attorneys Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld to provide free legal aid to people whose claims of innocence might be proven true by DNA testing. Since the project’s inception, it has exonerated162 people through DNA testing, including 14 from death row.

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