Riverhead, N.Y. — A Long Island judge on Wednesday overturned the conviction of a man who spent 33 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Keith Bush was 17 and at a house party when police arrested him in the killing of Sherese Watson, 14, who was found strangled and stabbed near the house.
Though he ultimately signed a confession, prosecutors believe it was coerced. Over the years, Bush and his lawyers made several attempts to get him exonerated. Bush was released in 2007 but was placed on lifetime parole.
CBS New York reported that Bush had to register as a high-risk sex offender, but never felt free. On Wednesday, he was cleared.
“I cannot give you back that which was taken from you in the 1970s, but I can give you back your presumption of innocence,” Suffolk County Court Judge Anthony Senft told Bush.
The judge said Bush was denied a fair trial and that there has since been newly discovered evidence of another potential murder suspect.
“We believe Keith Bush did not commit this murder,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said. “We believe that John Jones is a more probable suspect.”
Bush, now 62, told CBS New York he lived a long time with hurt and pain and no one would hear him out. Finally, someone listened to him.
Attorney Adele Bernhard, who runs New York Law School’s Post-Conviction Innocence Clinic and represented Bush was thrilled with the outcome. “Justice is finally served for Keith after decades too long. Now let’s look at all the other confessions these officers ‘solved’ by coercing a confession,” Bernhard said in a statement
Officials said this is one of the longest running wrongful conviction cases in U.S. history.