The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office has moved to overturn the conviction of a man who spent 29 years in prison for a murder he says he didn’t commit.
The only eyewitness against defendant Gerard Domond for the 1987 slaying of Patrick Hinkson had been held in a psychiatric ward before trial and testified as part of a cooperation agreement, according to an investigation by the DA’s Conviction Review Unit.
Brooklyn prosecutors did not disclose to the defense the unnamed witness’s psychiatric hospitalization, which had unfairly prejudiced the case against Domond, according to the report.
“This investigation revealed that crucial information about the mental state of the only eyewitness was kept from the jury and from the accused, depriving him of a fair trial,” said DA Eric Gonzalez in a statement.
In March 1987, a man dropped off Hinkson’s body at a hospital and said the victim had been shot in the parking lot of Club Love in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. He provided Hinkson’s name and address and vanished.
There was no crime-scene or forensic evidence tying Domond to the slaying.
Three days after the murder, the cooperating witness — whose name was withheld in the DA’s release — strolled into the 77th Precinct and told cops he had worked for Domond’s alleged crack-dealing business and saw him shoot Hinkson over a drug-money dispute.
Then-NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella arrested Domond and drove him to a lineup, although the cop had no other involvement in the case, according to the Conviction Review Unit’s report.
The role of the now-scandal-scarred former detective “did not at all affect the integrity of the investigation, prosecution, or verdict,” the report states.
At least 15 suspects have had their convictions thrown out due to Scarcella’s crooked investigations on the job.
Days after the witness’s visit to the precinct, he was busted for possessing “hundreds of vials of crack” and was promised no more than six months in prison in exchange for his cooperation against Domond at the 1989 trial.
The witness also had another open case against him in which he was charged with one count of first-degree robbery and two counts of first-degree burglary.
Prosecutors promised the witness that he would not have to serve additional jail time for the robbery case if he testified against Domond — although this assurance was not in the written cooperation agreement or revealed to the jury, the report said.
By the time the trial commenced, the witness was incarcerated at Kings County Hospital. Prosecutors told the defense he was being held at the medical facility due to an AIDS diagnosis — but he was actually in the psychiatric ward.
While the witness’s medical records no longer exist, investigators were unable to confirm his AIDS diagnosis and concluded that he was likely hospitalized for “a very serious mental-health condition.” The witness died in 2006.
Although the defense called 15 alibi witnesses who said Domond was in Georgia at the time of the shooting, the jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Domond was paroled in 2006. He is set to appear in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Friday afternoon — where Justice Matthew D’Emic is expected to formally vacate his murder conviction.
The move would mark the 29th conviction overturned since 2014 by recommendation of the DA’s Conviction Review Unit.
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