A man convicted in a notorious Bayside murder case in 1993 and spent 26 years in prison wants his name cleared.
The Legal Aid Society called on the Queens district attorney’s office to immediately consent to a recently filed vacatur motion regarding the case of Michael Robinson after the city’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) generated a new DNA result excluding Robinson as the source of the male DNA found under the fingernails of the decedent, Gwendolyn Samuels.
This result differs from OCME’s initial result of “inconclusive,” which was based on an incomplete DNA profile from the victim. After Legal Aid discovered and raised this with the court, OCME agreed to run a second test which revealed that a match between the fingernail evidence and Robinson is “78.1 trillion times less probable that a coincidental match to an unrelated African-American person.”
The Queens district attorney’s office even agreed to stipulate that Robinson is excluded as the male DNA donor under Samuel’s fingernails, yet still refuses to vacate the conviction. The jury that convicted Robinson in 1993 did not hear that Robinson was excluded from the DNA under Samuels fingernails.
“Our position under the facts of this case is that the presence or absence of the defendant’s DNA under the fingernails of the victim is irrelevant,” A Queens DA spokesperson said. “We never argued that it was the defendant’s DNA. There is no evidence that the poor deceased woman in this case had the opportunity to struggle with her assailant. And the evidence that convicted the defendant remains intact.”
Samuels, Robinson’s estranged wife, was a home health aide who was caring for a patient, 89-year-old Elveina Marchon, at her Bayside home. Samuels was killed during a violent stabbing by a male perpetrator. Defense attorneys for Robinson argued that Samuels’ then-boyfriend had stabbed and murdered Samuels.
“As we maintained since day one, Mr. Robinson is completely innocent of this crime, and in the interest of justice, prosecutors owe it to Mr. Robinson to vacate this conviction,” The Legal Aid Staff Attorney with the Criminal Appeals Bureau Harold Ferguson said. “Mr. Robinson spent 26 years incarcerated for a crime that he did not commit. These results — from the city’s own medical lab — fully exculpate our client.”
This past July, New York Supreme Court Justice Stephen Knopf ordered a hearing to assess the impact of newly discovered DNA evidence. This case is currently adjourned to Nov. 18.
Robinson’s current motion asks for a new trial where a jury can consider the DNA evidence. He was paroled on March 27 and works as a delivery man back home in Brooklyn, according to a spokesman for The Legal Aid Society.