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Innocent Man Part 2: After 33 years in prison new findings may clear man’s name

In the final part of our Newsday/News 12 investigation, reporter Thomas Maier reveals how Keith Bush got a second chance to prove his innocence.

News 12 Staff

May 21, 2019, 12:59 PM

Updated 1,860 days ago

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For years, a Suffolk man feared he'd spend his life in prison for a murder he says he didn't commit.
In the final part of our Newsday/News 12 investigation, reporter Thomas Maier reveals how Keith Bush got a second chance to prove his innocence.
Law professor Adele Bernhard and her students are on a mission to win justice for people wrongly convicted of murder.
Back in 2006, Bernhard's team learned about Keith Bush.
Bush had already spent more than 30 years in prison for the murder and attempted sex abuse of a North Bellport teenager, Sherese Watson.
After a decade of investigating, Bernhard convinced the Suffolk County district attorney to take a second look.
Suffolk prosecutor Howard Master is reviewing evidence gathered by Bernhard and her students, trying to determine if Bush was given a fair trial and whether he really killed Watson more than 40 years ago.
Newsday and News 12 we were granted unprecedented access inside the review process to determine Bush's fate.
If he's cleared, it will become one of the longest running wrongful conviction cases in U.S. history.
Bernhard focused on DNA evidence found at the 1975 murder scene. Underneath the fingernails of the strangled victim, forensic scientists found traces of male DNA. However, it wasn't from Bush, it was from an unknown man.
Bernhard's early attempts to overturn Bush's conviction failed.
Tom Spota, Suffolk's DA at that time, called it a "fishing expedition" and vigorously opposed Bush's release.
Bernhard filed a lawsuit to force the disclosure of all police and prosecution records in the case.
In May 2018, Bernhard uncovered the biggest surprise of all, police had another possible suspect, John W. Jones Jr.
Jones told cops he tripped over the dead girl's body on the night of the murder and left his long comb at the scene, evidence kept secret for more than 40 years.
The news came as a shock to Harold Seligman, who was Bush's defense lawyer at his trial in 1976.
The Newsday/News 12 investigation shows that while Bush remained behind bars, Jones went on to commit several crimes before he died in 2006, including using a knife to slash a man on an Amityville street corner.
Bush was paroled in 2007 and remains listed on the Internet as a sex-offender. He's grateful for this second chance to clear his name, but is worried about getting his hopes up.
A judge is expected soon to decide whether to throw out Bush's conviction.
If overturned, Bush will have waited 44 years to prove his innocence.


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