A man who has spent the past 26 years in prison for a murder he maintains he didn’t commit, may have his conviction vacated after Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz filed a motion to do so in court this week.
Ernest Kendrick, who was found guilty of murdering a 70-year-old woman in Long Island City in 1994, had his case reviewed by Katz’s Conviction Integrity Unit, which found that his conviction was based on flimsy eyewitness testimony and contradictory DNA analysis.
The case revolves around the murder of Josephine Sanchez, who was stabbed twice in the back by someone stealing her purse outside of the Ravenswood Houses on Nov. 30, 1994.
Hearing Sanchez’s screams, a 10-year-old witness poked their head out of their window and caught a glimpse of the attacker, later providing police with a description, according to court records.
Kendrick was arrested a short time after the murder by police who believed he loosely fit the description of the suspect.
During a police lineup, which Kendrick was included in, the 10-year-old initially identified another person as the murderer, but later changed his answer, identifying Kendrick as Sanchez’s attacker.
Following the lineup, Kendrick was interrogated by police several times and maintained his innocence throughout. However, police found several of his statements suspicious, according to Katz.
During their investigation, police found a second witness who claimed they saw Kendrick running away with Sanchez’s black purse.
Recent DNA testing on the purse revealed that Kendrick’s DNA was not on or in the black purse.
Though Kendrick was convicted largely based on the two witnesses testimony, the investigation by Katz’s Conviction Integrity Unit uncovered four new witness testimony that contracted the first two.
One of the new witnesses, a neighbor who lived directly below the 10-year-old’s apartment, said they saw the attacker run in the opposite direction from where Kendrick was spotted by the second witness, Katz said.
Two other witnesses who provided aid to Sanchez after her attack also came forward, contradicting the second witness who claimed they saw Sanchez alone.
Finally, another new witness, who the second witness claimed to be visiting at the time of the murder, told Katz that she was not home when the witness claimed they were together.
Katz has recommended Kendrick’s indictment be dismissed and his conviction vacated.