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Man freed, case dropped in deadly 1994 stabbing of NYC woman

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New York: A New York man’s conviction was cleared after he spent more than a quarter-century behind bars for a deadly robbery, with prosecutors acknowledging witnesses against him – including a 10-year-old boy – weren’t reliable.

Jaythan Kendrick, 62, walked out of a Queens courthouse Thursday, free for the first time since his arrest in the November 1994 death of Josephine Sanchez, a 70-year-old woman who was stabbed twice in the back.

‘I´m very, very happy today because I never thought this would happen, although I hoped and wished that it would,’ Kendrick, 62, told the court.

‘I´ve just known one thing for the last 25 years: I did not commit this crime,’ he said. ‘Nobody really understands what it is to be in prison when you are innocent, and you know you´re innocent, and you´re behind that wall.’

Queens Justice Joseph Zayas apologized to Kendrick for what he called a ‘monumental’ miscarriage of justice.

‘It took way, way too long to discover, and you, sir, deserve better than that,’ the judge said as he overturned Kendrick’s murder conviction and dismissed the case. ‘We failed you.’

Kendrick, an Army veteran and former postal carrier who is also known legally as Ernest Kendrick, had been serving a sentence of 25 years to life after being convicted of fatally stabbing Sanchez in 1995 at the Ravenswood Houses in Queens.

His conviction rested mainly on the testimony of the 10-year-old – who had looked out at the crime scene from a third-floor window and identified Kendrick as the man he saw running away – and a second witness, a man who said he saw Kendrick running past him with a purse.

A black handbag was later found by police while searching Kendrick’s apartment, which he was sharing with a woman at the time, the New York Post reported.

But recent DNA testing – which wasn’t done at the time of the trial – showed there was none of the victim’s DNA on the purse, contradicting the idea that the bag belonged to her. Tests also found another man’s DNA, not Kendrick’s, under Sanchez’s fingernails.

The now-grown child witness, who had initially picked someone else out of a lineup, recanted his later identification of Kendrick in recent years. He admitted that he wasn’t able to see the suspect clearly enough to identify him at the time of the incident.

Kendrick’s lawyers raised doubts about the veracity of the second witness, noting that the witness had two pending criminal cases and incentive to give police the testimony they needed to arrest Kendrick, Freidman said.

Additionally, four other witnesses have since emerged with accounts that conflicted with the second witnesses’ testimony.

‘This is a textbook case of wrongful conviction exposing the worst flaws in our system,’ said Susan Friedman, Kendrick’s lawyer with the Innocence Project, which worked on his case with the WilmerHale law firm.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said prosecutors now believe jurors would probably have acquitted Kendrick if they had heard all the evidence that’s now available.

In one of her first moves when she took office this past January, Katz created a Conviction Integrity Unit to review wrongful-conviction claims, and Kendrick’s soon became one of them.

‘This case is a prime example of why the CIU exists,’ she said in a statement Thursday.

Katz’s predecessor, Queens DA Richard Brown, had refused to consider the new evidence and insisted on Kendrick’s guilt. Brown died in 2019.

‘Too many police and prosecutors remain focused on securing and maintaining convictions at all costs,’ WilmerHale attorney Ross Firsenbaum said, while praising Katz’s office, according to the New York Post.

Firsenbaum donated his time to the Innocence Project to work on Kendrick’s wrongful conviction case.

Kendrick’s cousin, Clarence Hughes, spent the past 25 years advocating for Kendrick’s innocence, writing to the FBI, the Queens DA and ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show.’

‘The family is elated … Jaythan lost a lot of his family,’ Hughes said.

Hughes said that Kendrick’s mother and sister died while he was incarcerated, adding that ‘We don’t have that many of the family left.’

Kendrick told reporters that he was looking forward to a good meal now that he’s free – ‘Shrimp, flounder, lobster, crab, any of that’ – and said he’s looking forward to traveling and catching up on technology and other things he’s missed in prison.

‘As I was told, there´s a whole new world out there,’ he told reporters. ‘OK, let’s go.’

Kendrick’s advice to anyone who might find themselves in a similar situation as he was in, back in 1994, was: ‘I would tell them to ask for a lawyer, don’t say one word.’

He added that, ‘I trusted them, I trusted the police, I trusted they’d do the right thing and see that I was innocent. That was my mistake.’

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Nigerian pastor freed by Boko Haram hours before execution: ‘I thank God’

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Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria freed a Christian pastor on Wednesday evening who had been held captive since Christmas Eve, just hours before the ransom deadline expired and he was to be executed.

Security sources told the Nigerian online newspaper Premium Times that Pastor Bulus Yikura, who was abducted during an attack in the Chibok local government area of the Borno state on Dec. 24, has been released. A Premium Times reporter claimed to have seen the pastor being transported to a state security office around 6:15 p.m. local time.

Boko Haram, one of the world’s deadliest extremist groups, released a video on Feb. 24 where Yikura pleaded with the Nigerian government and the Christian Association of Nigeria to rescue him before he was killed.

“If you want me alive, I beg you in your capacity as president, the governor and our local government chairman to save me from this suffering,” the pastor said in the Hausa language, according to HumAngle.

“Today is the last day I will have the opportunity to call on you in your capacity as my parents and relatives in the country,” Yikura said. “Anyone who has the intention should help and save me. Please release me from this pain.”

In one of the videos obtained by HumAngle, the pastor knelt as a knife-wielding man in a mask stood behind him. Yikrua, affiliated with the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, had appeared in three videos throughout his detainment. One was released in December, days after his abduction, and the others were released in January and February.

Security forces told Premium Times that Yikura’s family and the EYN church had been negotiating his release since last week.

When asked to speak about his release, the pastor was quoted as saying, “I thank God, I thank God.”

Dede Laugesen, executive director of the United States-based advocacy group Save the Persecuted Christians, believes EYN church might have paid his ransom.

“We celebrate his release and also the children from Zamfara being released, but the plague of kidnapping for ransom that has been rampant in Nigeria since 2019 has been unaddressed and we are now very concerned that we have seen the increase in the kidnapping of schoolchildren,” Laugesen told the Christian Post in an interview Thursday.

Kidnapping for ransom has become a lucrative industry to fund Nigerian extremists and criminals. The West African country has experienced a wave of mass abductions in the past months.

Nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped in a raid last week by armed militants in northwest Nigeria and were safely released on Tuesday.

“It’s an unfortunate reality that is becoming more and more ingrained in Nigeria and a problem that is very difficult to resolve, especially when the government is likely also involved,” Laugesen said.

Not long after the girls were freed on Wednesday, extremists reportedly burned much of a Zamfara state village in northwest Nigeria and abducted about 60 people, according to HumAngle. Many residents have fled to nearby areas for safety.

In January 2020, the Rev. Lawan Adnimi was beheaded in the Sambisa forest by Boko Haram militants because he refused to renounce his faith and money was not raised for his ransom.

Similar to Yikura, Boko Haram had previously released videos of Adnimi, who said, “By the grace of God, I will be together with my wife and my children and all my colleagues. If the opportunity has not been granted, maybe it is the will of God.”

Laugesen said the federal government’s lack of accountability in the prevalence of persecution must be called out before it escalates further.

“It’s a very complex situation with lots of factors involved, but thus far, the international community has failed to address this growing calamity in Nigeria,” Laugesen said. “We are all very concerned that you will see the eruption of violence on the scale of what we saw in Rwanda should the international community not be able to bring the Nigerian federal government to account.”

Laugesen told CP that some Christians are concerned the government enables militant organizations in order to receive funding for the military complex to fight terrorism.

“Nigeria is essentially the new headquarters for the Islamic jihad seeking to establish a caliphate …,” Laugesen said. “The Christians in Nigeria and others are very concerned that the government continues to give impunity to Islamic extremists in Nigeria. … So there’s no real accountability coming from the Nigerian government.”

The Global Terrorism Index ranks Nigeria as the third country most affected by terrorism in the world. From 2001 to 2019, it says there were over 22,000 terror-related deaths. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, also leads the world in the number of Christians killed, according to Open Doors USA.

“Christians in Nigeria are really without representation or a voice,” Laugesen said. “Many believe that Nigeria is headed toward a complete unraveling, which would be a disaster on par with what happened in the Middle East with ISIS. Our organization, along with others, believes that an act of genocide of Christians is happening in Nigeria, that it is supported top-down, bottom-up from the government, and from the extremist groups.”

Open Doors 2021 World Watch List ranks Nigeria as the ninth-worst country for Christian persecution. The organization also reports an “extreme” level of Islamic oppression toward believers in Nigeria. Just under 50% of the country is Christian. According to Open Doors, there are over 95 million Christians in the country.

Nigeria was the first democratic nation to be added to the U.S. State Department’s list of countries of particular concern for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
Sources:Christian Post

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കൊറോണ വൈറസ് റിലീഫ് ബില്ല് ചര്‍ച്ച ചെയ്യുന്നതിന് സെനറ്റിന്റെ അനുമതി

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വാഷിംഗ്ടൺ ഡിസി: വലിയ വിവാദങ്ങൾക്കും നീണ്ട കാത്തിരിപ്പിനും ശേഷം പ്രസിഡന്‍റ് ബൈഡൻ കൊണ്ടുവന്ന 1.9 ട്രില്യൻ ഡോളറിന്‍റെ കൊറോണ വൈറസ് റിലീഫ് ബില്ല് സെനറ്റിൽ ചർച്ച തുടരുന്നതിന് അനുമതി ലഭിച്ചു.

ബിൽ ചർച്ചയ്ക്കെടുക്കണമോ എന്ന വിഷയത്തിൽ വോട്ടെടുപ്പു നടന്നപ്പോൾ ഇരുപാർട്ടികളിലേയും അംഗങ്ങളുടെ എണ്ണം 50-50 എന്ന നിലയിലായിരുന്നു. ഇതിനെ തുടർന്നു വൈസ് പ്രസിഡന്‍റ് കമലാ ഹാരിസിന്‍റെ കാസ്റ്റിംഗ് വോട്ടാണ് ബില്ലിന് രക്ഷയായത്. ബില്ലിന്‍റെ വിശദചർച്ചകൾ ഇനി സെനറ്റിൽ നടക്കും. ബജറ്റ് റിക്കൺസിലിയേഷൻ നടപടി പൂർത്തിയായതിനാൽ കേവല ഭൂരിപക്ഷം മാത്രം മതിയായിരുന്നു ബില്ല് ചർച്ചയ്ക്കെടുക്കുന്നതിന്.‍

വിസ്കോൺസണിൽ നിന്നുള്ള റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കൻ സെനറ്റർ റോൺ ജോൺസൻ 628 പേജ് വരുന്ന ബില്ല് മുഴുവനായും സെനറ്റ് ക്ലാർക്ക് വായിക്കണമെന്ന് നിർബന്ധിച്ചു. ഇതോടെ ചർച്ചക്കനുവദിച്ച 20 മണിക്കൂറിനോടൊപ്പം 10 മണിക്കൂർ കൂടി അനുവദിച്ചു. സെനറ്റ് മെജോറട്ടി ലീഡർ ചക്ക് ഷുമ്മറുടെ ഉറച്ച നിലപാടാണ് ഇന്നു തന്നെ ബില്ല് ചർച്ചയ്ക്കെടുക്കുന്ന കാര്യത്തിൽ തീരുമാനം ഉണ്ടാകുന്നതിനു വഴി തെളിയിച്ചത്.

ബിൽ ചർച്ചയ്ക്കെടുക്കുന്നത് പരമാവധി താമസിപ്പിക്കുക എന്ന റിപ്പബ്ലിക്കൻ പാർട്ടിയുടെ അജണ്ടയാണ് കമല ഹാരിസിന്‍റെ വോട്ടോടെ പരാജയപ്പെട്ടത്. വരും ദിവസങ്ങളിൽ 1.9 ട്രില്യൻ ഡോളറിന്‍റെ പാക്കേജ് പൂർണമായി സെനറ്റ് അംഗീകരിക്കുമോ എന്നു കാത്തിരുന്നു കാണേണ്ടി വരും.
കടപ്പാട് :കേരളാ ന്യൂസ്

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