This is a case that officials are calling “A complete failure of the justice system”. Victims of these injustices are not unheard of. What is unusual, is to hear or watch a story about injustice and still find yourself smiling in the end.
Such is the story of Andre Hatchett. He was convicted of murder back in 1991. The catch is, he didn’t commit the murder. He has special needs, a fact that you wouldn’t believe his lawyers failed to disclose to the judge.
He wasn’t that much help to his defense team because of his disability, he can barely read and write. The sad thing about this is that he was put in jail based somewhat solely on a testimony of one witness. As it turns out, that witness was a career criminal who agreed to point out Hatchett as the killer in exchange of his personal gain.
Another notable thing is that the facts and proofs that could have helped Hatchett prove his innocence were also suppressed. The witness swore that he saw Hatchett kill and drag the victim in the park and even screamed at them as he saw them. What didn’t reach the juror, is the fact that Hatchet had been on crutches on the day of the killing. He had been shot months earlier and was on crutches.
Thankfully, New York’s Conviction Unit helped overturn the conviction. Now, the prosecutors agree that the crutches made it impossible for Hatchett to actually drag the body as the witness described.
For a man who spent 25 years of his life serving a sentence that he doesn’t deserve, Hatchett truly is one of a kind.
“I feel good. I feel good. I’m glad I’m free.”
Watching the video is surely touching. It’s not everyday you see such a positive person who manages to smile and be forgiving despite the things that were done to him.
“I smiled. I smiled. Since I been in jail that’s my ID: smile.”
You can’t help but smile too after seeing his release and his contagious smile.
Image Screengrab from NBC New York.