John Ramsey spent 33 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He and his legal team, including civil rights attorney Craig Phemister, recently filed a motion to prove his innocence. The court papers were filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court and charge that the NYPD and Brooklyn District Attorney withheld exculpatory evidence.

The motion seeks to vacate John Ramsey’s 1981 conviction in the murder of a drug dealer in a Flatbush crack house.

“There is no physical evidence linking John Ramsey to the crime,” said Craig Phemister, his attorney from the litigation firm of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. “He was not even there that night.”

At a recent press conference, Hill Harper, the well-known actor and respected activist added, “All of us should demand that the DA be sitting with us, in support of this motion and say ‘Mea Culpa, the previous DA did this horrible thing, but I will make it right,’” during the Press Conference held near the courthouse.

The only (mis)identification of Mr. Ramsey came from a witness who first told police he could not identify anyone. Then, after being accused by the victim’s brother that he was involved in the crime, returned to the precinct where he picked out Ramsey’s photos from a file of photographs of last names beginning with “R.”  At Ramsey’s trial this witness admitted he had been smoking angel dust all day and immediately prior to the crime. None of the other three testifying witnesses in the room of the shooting identified Ramsey at trial.

“The police had the real killers within hours of the crime but let them go,” says Mr. Phemister.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Kings County District Attorney’s Office withheld documents from Mr. Ramsey’s defense attorney, Michael Vecchione, that showed two other suspects were arrested for the murder within an hour of the shooting based on descriptions and locations given by a 9-1-1 caller. One of those men, a convicted criminal himself, now says in a recorded confession to the District Attorney that Ramsey was not the man with him when he broke into the crack house, robbed and killed the dealer Vernon Green. He states that the other man, who was arrested with him the night of the murder, was his brother.

Michael Vecchione, who later went on to become Chief of the Rackets Division of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, has supplied an Affidavit attesting to the missing documents.

Ramsey’s attorney Craig Phemister said of the Press Conference, “I am thrilled at the turnout we had today, not only the media, but the representative from the Brooklyn DA’s office showed up. Friends and family of John Ramsey have urged Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez to take a closer look at this case.”

John Ramsey summed it all up in a poignant plea, “All I want is my life back… Justice without Truth is not Justice.” #JusticeForRamsey

Napoli Shkolnik PLLC is proud to provide representation to victims of wrongful convictions through our Pro Bono Civil Rights Department.