A federal judge on Friday declined to throw out a number of charges that a man who was wrongfully convicted of killing his parents has brought in a lawsuit against Suffolk County and a number of county police officers.
U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert in federal court in Cental Islip ruled Friday in an 80-page decision that it was up to a jury to determine whether or not: a confession that Martin Tankleff made and then hastily retracted had been coerced; whether his prosecution had been malicious; and whether police had not passed on being told, by a doctor performing the autopsies, that it was unlikely that a knife that they believed Tankleff used in killing his parents, Seymour and Arlene Tankleff, could have been a murder weapon.
Suffolk County attorneys had asked that those three charges be thrown out because they were not true. Even if those charges had been tossed, the Tankleff suit could have proceeded on other grounds.
Tankleff was released after serving 17 years in prison for the 1988 murder of his parents after his conviction was overturned.
In 2014, Tankleff settled a separate false-imprisonment lawsuit with the state for $3.3 million.
Suffolk County Attorney Dennis Brown said in a statement Friday: “Suffolk County is confident that after all the facts are presented at trial the jury will dismiss this case.”
One of Tankleff’s attorneys, Bruce Barket of Garden City, said of the decision: “Obviously we are very pleased.” Barket said the civil trial was likely to start next year — the 30th anniversary of the killing of Tankleff’s parents.