Yutico Briley was wrongfully sentenced to 60 years in prison. A letter to a journalist saved him


Yutico Briley was sentenced to a life sentence for a single crime, based on extremely sparse evidence. In a fluke, he sent a letter to journalist Emily Bazelon, who writes about the criminal justice system. On a journey against injustice and guided by the magic of personal relationships, Briley’s fate was happy. But there are many Yuticos behind bars.

Almost nine years ago, Benjamin Joseph was robbed at gunpoint outside his home in New Orleans, United States. When he went to the police to describe the attacker, he said he had been assaulted by a slender black man wearing the hood of a pullover.

About 18 hours after the testimony, US police arrested a teenager, named Yutico Briley, despite not being thin and wearing a hood with a clasp.

Like Briley, who was passing in Joseph’s neighborhood, it was black and had a weapon, there were enough reasons for the agents to consider him suspicious.

O The New York Times he writes that, from then on, the police and prosecutors responsible for the case moved aggressively, almost as if they were more concerned with securing an arrest than properly convicting the right person.

Police did not set up an alignment that included the young man. Instead, he took Yutico Briley to go identified by Joseph, who confirmed him as the perpetrator of the robbery.

Neither the investigators nor the lawyers were able to obtain evidence capable of exculpating him. The jury eventually convicted him, based on Joseph’s identification, to 60 years in prison, with no possibility of parole.

The 19-year-old, with no violent conviction in his criminal record (he had a single conviction on his record, for selling drugs at age 17), was eventually sentenced to a life sentence for a single crime based on extremely strong evidence. scarce.

Yutico Briley’s story is told by the journalist Emily Bazelon, at The New York Times magazine.

the lucky break

In the article, Bazelon says that, while attending law school, he took a class on capital punishment where he learned that many false convictions had something in common: wrong identification of an eyewitness.

It is true that this type of testimony is fallible, but it is also very valuable. “There is almost nothing more convincing than a living human being who takes a stand, points the finger at the defendant and says, ‘That’s the one!’” wrote psychologist Elizabeth Loftus in her book Testimony of an eyewitness, 1979.

While there isn’t much data, an early 1989 – but often cited – study suggests that eyewitness testimony is used to solve at least 80,000 crimes a year in the United States.

Based on this information, it seems almost intuitive to conclude that there are many Yuticos behind bars. Some luckier than others.

In 2019, the young man heard an interview with Emily Bazelon and decided to write her a letter. The journalist did not read it until a few months later, when a retired Oregon librarian contacted her as part of a detainee support program.

Bazelon found Briley’s letter, exchanged some correspondence with him and was convinced that it was worth investigating the case.

After contacting several lawyers, who refused to represent Briley, the journalist asked for help from her sister Lara Bazelon, a law professor at the University of San Francisco. The lawyer took over the case and, with the help of her students, a private detective and her own sister, she managed to resort.

In March, after eight and a half years in prison, Yutico Briley has been released.

The post Yutico Briley was wrongfully sentenced to 60 years in prison. A letter to a journalist saved him appeared first on CmaTrends.


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