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NYC Man Freed After 18 Years in Jail for Murder He Knew Nothing About

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By Judy Perkins - - 5 Mins Read

After spending more than 18 years behind bars for murder, a New York City man has finally regained the freedom to go home after being a victim of wrongful conviction cases. His wrongful arrest happened after a photo of another person with the same name was used by the police to accuse him of a crime he didn't commit. Wrongful conviction cases have become the norm in many states of America, and efforts are being made to curb the increasing rate of this problem. 

Sheldon Thomas, who will soon turn 36, was wrongfully convicted for a crime he didn't commit. Apparently, much evidence showed that the police officers who were part of the case were trying so hard to pin the crime on someone, and he was the scapegoat. According to those who have a good knowledge of the case, the prosecution of Sheldon Thomas "was compromised from the very start by grave errors and lack of probable cause." But this single error committed by the police made the promising young man spend a better part of his life in prison. 

The case which caused Sheldon Thomas to spend 18 years in prison happened in 2004 after the fatal shooting of 14-year-old Anderson Bercy on Dec. 24. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who is in charge of the case, said that evidence showed that Sheldon Thomas was not guilty of the case. The police officers who convicted him of murder had everything planned, which led to his arrest and imprisonment. Thomas was one of three people charged with killing Bercy and spent much of his life in prison. 

While speaking after his release, Sheldon Thomas said he had even dreamed of the day he would finally be out of prison. According to him, he has always been clear that he didn't participate in the crime. "When I was in my cell, I would think of this moment and replay the conversations I would have with myself, what I would say," Sheldon Thomas said in the court while also mentioning that he offers his condolences to the victim's family. It has been 18 years since the crime was committed, but it seems Sheldon Thomas doesn't have anything against the Bercy family for the wrongful conviction. 

Sheldon James during a court hearing
Source: Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez/Twitter

How Sheldon Thomas Found his Freedom 

Sheldon Thomas became a freeman after a thorough review of the case showed that the police officers who handled the case had made several mistakes with identity. 

A review of the case by the district attorney’s Conviction Review Unit found that the police officers who handled the case had faked some scenes as evidence to the court. According to the details of the review, they had handed the wrong photo of Sheldon Thomas to people and made their claim that he was the one that shot Bercy during the drive-by shooting. 

Thomas was convicted of second-degree murder and was sentenced to serve 25 years in prison with hard labor. 18 years into the sentence, Sheldon Thomas's murder conviction was overturned, and it was discovered that the whole case was filled with mistakes. After the release of Sheldon Thomas, the court is yet to tell their next line of action.