Rockville Centre man walks free after shooting conviction is overturned
A Rockville Centre man who served more than two decades in prison walked out a free man today after his deadly shooting conviction was overturned.
Joseph Jackson walked out of the Mineola courtroom around 11:30 a.m. It was his first taste of freedom in more than 20 years.
Jackson, 47, was convicted of killing a 19-year-old Nassau County man in March 1994. The evidence against him included a 15-page signed confession, which Jackson says he gave after police kept him in a room for 39 hours and “beat the hell” out of him.
Newly revealed information led the Nassau District Attorney’s Office to recommend a judge set aside the conviction. Jackson actually paved his own road to freedom from prison. After filing a Freedom of Information request, he received the original statements about the murder from two eyewitnesses. One of those witnesses was an off-duty New York City police officer who gave descriptions of the suspect that did not match Jackson. Those statements were never shared with Jackson's attorney, and prosecutors now admit they should have been. They claim it was an oversight.
“The statements should have been turned over at the time of trial,” says Assistant Nassau DA Sheryl Anania. “They weren't, and based upon that, we felt that the conviction should be vacated.”
Jackson says his years in prison were extremely difficult, especially being away from his wife and five children. Despite that, he claims he isn't bitter. Instead, he is looking forward to putting the many shattered pieces of his life back together. He said the first thing he would do when he got home is hug his wife.
Including the time spent in the Nassau County Jail awaiting trial, Jackson was behind bars for a little more than 23 years.