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Court: New trial for Queens man in 1990 stabbing death

Johnny Hincapie, who was convicted in the 1990

Johnny Hincapie, who was convicted in the 1990 murder of a Utah tourist on a subway, gives witness testimony at the New York State Supreme Courthouse, March 1, 2015. Credit: AP / REX / Stefan Jeremiah

A state appeals court on Tuesday said Johnny Hincapie, the Queens man who served 25 years in prison for stabbing Utah tourist Brian Watkins to death in a notorious 1990 subway mugging, is entitled to a new trial.

The state Appellate Division in Manhattan upheld the ruling last year of state Supreme Court Justice Eduardo Prado that led to the release of Hincapie, 43, but Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance pledged at the time to retry the case.

Vance seemed less certain of his plans after the appeals court ruling.

“We are reviewing our options,” a spokesman said.

The five-judge panel said Prado “properly exercised (his) discretion” to grant a new trial based on three witnesses who vouched for Hincapie’s claim that at the time tourist Brian Watkins was killed, Hincapie was on a different level of the 7th Avenue subway station.

Watkins’ family was on the way to the U.S. Open. He was killed trying to defend his mother during an attack by a gang of teens. Hincapie was part of a large group that was headed to the Roseland Ballroom, and was one of seven convicted of felony-murder.

“I am gratified by the swift and clear determination by the appeals court,” Hincapie’s lawyer Ron Kuby said on Tuesday, “and hope that DA Vance will finally realize that Hincapie was wrongfully convicted and paid for the DA’s and police misconduct with 25 years of his life.”


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