Man Freed After Being Mistakenly Imprisoned for Over 18 Years

On Thursday, Sheldon Thomas, 35, who was found guilty in 2004 of killing a 14-year-old boy in New York City, had his conviction overturned and his indictment thrown out years after an eyewitness identified him based on a photo of the wrong Sheldon Thomas.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzales said that when a judge heard about the botched identification, there was still probable cause for the arrest and that the photo had a reasonable likeness. Records show Thomas was 17 when he was arrested and charged with murder.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Conviction Reversal Unit investigated the case extensively, leading to his acquittal.

According to Gonzales, Thomas’s case “was compromised from the very start by grave errors and lack of probable cause to arrest Mr. Thomas. He was further deprived of his due process rights when the prosecution proceeded even after the erroneous identification came to light, making his conviction fundamentally unfair.”

A police photo of Thomas from a gun arrest months earlier was used as part of an array of photos to show an eyewitness, the district attorney’s office said.

Thomas was one of three alleged gang members accused of killing Anderson Bercy and wounding another, the district attorney’s office reported.

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According to the office, before the detectives obtained that photo, they pulled one from a police database that was actually of a different Sheldon Thomas. Interestingly, Gonzales stated that the eyewitness recognized that photo as the shooter, totally unaware of the fact that it was the wrong Sheldon Thomas in the array of images.

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