Review of 50 Brooklyn Murder Cases Ordered

Frances Robles

May 11, 2013

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit will reopen every murder case that resulted in a guilty verdict that was investigated by Louis Scarcella, a detective who handled some of Brooklyn’s most notorious crimes in the 1980s and 1990s, including the 1990 murder of a Rabbi for which David Ranta was exonerated earlier this year.
Scarcella’s tactics and the legitimacy of his convictions came under fire after The New York Times examined a dozen of his cases, and defense lawyers and advocacy organizations shared their own suspicions about his methods with the district attorney’s office. Among the cases examined was that of James Jenkins. The Times reports:

In the 1987 murder trial of James Jenkins, who was convicted, Judge Francis X. Egitto said that the witness identification procedures used by Mr. Scarcella were “a classic illustration of what not to do.” Witnesses were shown one photo rather than a gallery, the court records show. They were allowed to mingle together while making an identification of Mr. Jenkins, and Mr. Scarcella told them, “We have the guy who committed the murder.”
“That was wrong if I did that,” Mr. Scarcella said. “But I don’t remember.”

Interviews with lawyers, prosecutors, witnesses and suspects, as well as a review of legal documents, suggest Scarcella didn’t comply with the rules during his investigations.