A Cambria Heights man who was held on Rikers Island for 19
months on murder charges has been freed after the Bronx district attorney said
his office had no evidence proving the man's guilt.
Lloyd Brown, 20, was released on March 29 and charges were officially
dismissed on Wednesday after prosecutors for District Attorney Robert Johnson
cited "the lack of physical evidence" and expressed concerns about the
credibility of an eyewitness they said was coerced by police into identifying
"The people cannot meet their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt,"
senior Assistant District Attorney Gregg Turkin told State Supreme Court
Justice Denis Boyle, who dismissed charges of second-degree murder, burglary
and possession of a weapon.
Brown's attorney, Deron Castro, said the charges were dropped after Brown's
father produced a credit-card receipt showing that Brown and his family were
shopping at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream at the time of the Bronx
But Steven Reed, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, said the
receipt did not "conclusively establish" that Brown was with his family at the
mall. "There is no evidence exonerating him," Reed said. "Nothing has turned up
that he is innocent and didn't do it."
Brown, who was 18 at the time, was arrested and charged with the July 3,
1998, murder of Dale Smith, a Jamaican party promoter who was shot six times by
four gunmen who charged into his home at 2015 Pitman Ave. in the Wakefield
section of the Bronx.
A friend of Smith's, Elroy Evans, told police that the gunmen had ordered
him and Smith to lie down on the floor and that they complied. But he said
Smith was shot after he began struggling with one of the men.
After later being identified as a witness to the shooting, Evans was
instructed by police investigators "to stop playing around and to identify
someone or he was going to be charged himself," the district attorney's office
said in a memo recommending the dismissal of the charges. Evans then picked
Brown, who had been arrested but not charged in a Queens robbery, out of a
photo display and later in a police lineup.
"At this point, we are grateful that we didn't have to go through a whole
trial process," Castro said. "But we have a kid who spent 19 months in jail,
and nothing has changed since the beginning of the case. They had all this
information at the very beginning. It is frustrating that we had to spend all
this time waiting."