Case Closed? — Police Say Evidence Used Against Black Teens "Useless"
After more than six months re-investigating the Central Park jogger case, authorities have turned up no new evidence to contradict a serial rapist's claim that he alone committed the crime for which five teens served years in prison.
In fact, a confidential police report obtained by Newsday concludes that "All forensic evidence used at trial ... [to convict the Central Park 5] has now been determined to be useless."
Instead, the NYPD report indicates that retesting of evidence supports the idea that Matias Reyes, 31, committed the April 19, 1989, rape and near-fatal attack on the jogger.
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There was never much evidence, beyond their own words, linking the five teens to the crime. But even less exists today, according to the report:
Authorities re-tested hairs from Kevin Richardson's underwear and pants that were identified in 1989 as similar to the jogger's -- and the new tests proved they do not belong to the victim.
Blood on a rock at the scene that was suggested to be that of the jogger's was tested again and found not to be a match. A hair recovered from the rock also believed to be the jogger's tested negative this year. (A law enforcement source said the rock had been handled by many people since the attack, possibly contaminating the DNA.)
Retesting also knocked down evidence implicating Steve Lopez, another teen. Lopez, originally charged in the case, denied involvement, and the charges were dropped after he pleaded guilty to a less serious assault on a male jogger. A hair found on Lopez's shirt that was said to be similar to the victim's in 1989 was examined again and determined not to be the victim's. His sneakers, which supposedly had blood on them 13 years ago but not enough to determine the type -- produced "no blood" when tested now.
The strongest evidence against the five remains their statements describing their actions that night in the park. The report says "there are at least 12 places ... where their narratives overlap or are the same." But it also notes that parts of Reyes' account are "more accurate than the original defendants."
I'll probably post one more long post on the case and then will take a break from writing about the Central Park 5 (barring other major developments) until the hearing on Oct. 21st. It's taken too much of my time and has angered me to no end.
Posted by ronn at October 14, 2002 01:18 AM