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Conviction tossed for man jailed 22 years

NEW YORK, Jan. 24 (UPI) — A New York man who had been in prison for 22 years has been freed after a judge overturned his murder conviction, saying the case against him was “flimsy.”

Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled that William Lopez, of Brooklyn, should receive a new trial in the 1989 shooting death of Elvirn Surria because Lopez’s trial lawyer failed to call alibi witnesses, and a witness who identified Lopez as the gunman has since recanted, the New York Daily News reported.

“The prosecution’s evidence was flimsy to begin with and has since been reduced to rubble by facts arising after the trial,” Garaufis wrote.

Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, said the prosecutor’s office plans to appeal Garaufis’ decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals while it considers whether to retry Lopez.

“If necessary, the People will re-try the defendant on the pending murder charge,” Schmetterer said in a statement.

Lopez said he is happy to be out.

“It feels great to be back on earth and I’m looking forward to restarting my life as best I can. I’ll probably just take a nice breath of fresh air. Cold air,” he said.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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