After spending 15 years in a New York prison for murder, Roy Brown has been exonerated through DNA evidence and is free. Brown is the eighth person in New York to be exonerated due to DNA evidence in the past 13 months, more than in any other state during the same period.

While in prison, Brown conducted his own investigation of his wrongful conviction and found documents incriminating another man in the murder of Sabina Kulakowski. The documents pointed to Barry Bench, a volunteer firefighter whose brother had lived with Kulakowski until the months before her death. Earlier tests conducted by Brown’s attorneys found a connection between one of Bench’s close relatives and the genetic code lifted from the saliva on the victims’ nightshirt. In 2003, five days after Brown mailed Bench a letter accusing him of the crime, Bench jumped to his death in front of an Amtrak train. His body was later exhumed to confirm his genetic link to the crime.

Attorneys from the New-York based Innocence Project represented Brown in the proceedings that resulted in his freedom. His attorneys said that an investigator in the case initially dismissed a fellow-firefighter’s suspicions about Bench’s involvement in the crime because the investigator knew Bench and thought him incapable of killing anyone. In addition, one of the nation’s leading forensic odontologists, Lowell Levine, who analyzed the bite marks on Kulakowski’s body before trial, told the district attorney at the time that the one mark he could interpret “excluded” Brown as a suspect. Prosecutors then decided to not ask Levine to file an official report, but relied on another expert - a local dentist - whose testimony helped to convict Brown.

“I’m sorry it’s taken such a long time for you to come to this day. I’m happy for you and your family,” Judge Mark H. Fandrich told Brown after prosecutors joined the defense’s motion to release Brown. After he was freed, Brown noted, “Changes have got to be made, man. They say the wheels of justice move slowly, but you know what? The wheels of justice are flat.” Brown’s attorneys say that he has no money, does not know where he is going to live, and suffers from hepatitis C and cirrhosis of the liver.

(New York Times, January 24, 2007). Murder cases such as Brown’s can result in death sentences. However, New York did not have a capital punishment law at the time of this crime. See Innocence. Read a Press Release about this case issued by the Innocence Project.