October 07, 2002

On This Date

On This Date:

On the the morning that [the Manhattan DA and defense] were set to start picking a jury, October 7, 1991, the defense attorney said that [Matias] Reyes wanted to plead guilty. Judge Galligan's plea offer was thirty-three years to life, the longest sentence we prosecutors had ever heard of on a plea bargain. A plea bargain would spare the victims the agony of reliving their encounters with Reyes and would eliminate the uncertainty that accompanies any criminal trial. Both the prosecution and the defense accepted the plea bargain, and Matias Reyes plead guilty.

Three weeks later, Reyes was sentenced . At sentencing, Judge Galligan made a record in court of his recommendation to the parole board that Reyes never be paroled, that he spend the rest of his life in jail. Reyes punched his lawyer and knocked him to the floor before he was led away to beging serving his sentence for rape and homicide.

At the time that Reyes was sentenced in 1991, the new genetic evidence that had played a crucial role in sending him to prison for life was just gaining wide acceptance. A new technology, it had been used to solve a murder case in 1987. The story of the discovery of DNA analysis and that first use brings together science at its most wondrous and crime at its most heinous.

-- from Chapter 1/Breakthrough (pp. 15,16) : And the Blood Cried Out: A Prosecutor's Spellbinding Account of the Power of DNA by Harlan Levy, former prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s office, central to the convictions of the Central Park 5.

Posted by ronn at October 7, 2002 04:57 PM