Today’s news:

Attorneys for David McCallum, convicted of murder, hope new District Attorney Ken Thompson will re-open case

New district attorney could free man convicted in controversial murder case

The Brooklyn Paper

A Bushwick man jailed for murder 29 years ago in a dubious conviction is hoping the new district attorney will take another look at his case.

Attorneys for David McCallum, who confessed in 1985 — allegedly under duress — to the kidnapping and murder of a Queens man, are lobbying new top borough lawman Ken Thompson to re-investigate the case.

The lawyers argue that neither the DNA nor the handprints found at the scene of the crime match McCallum or his convicted co-conspirator Willie Stuckey, and that the pair’s convictions rested almost entirely on their confessions — which were not consistent with each other or the forensic evidence, and which they both immediately recanted.

“At no time then or since has a single piece of forensic evidence — or evidence of any kind — ever tied McCallum or Stuckey to the crime,” wrote Oscar Michelen, who has represented McCallum pro-bono for the past nine years, in a letter to Thompson on Jan. 22.

McCallum and Stuckey — who died in prison in 2001 — were just 16 when they were arrested and charged with holding up 20–year–old Ozone Park resident Nathan Blenner, forcing him into his Buick, driving to Aberdeen Park on Bushwick Avenue, and then shooting Blenner in the head and torching the car nearby.

Two young men police picked up in connection with the crime fingered Stuckey and McCallum as the culprits, and the Bushwick pair accused each other while in custody, but then recanted their stories.

McCallum and Stuckey rejected a deal and pled not guilty — a losing gamble for the pair, who both received sentences of 25 years to life.

Michelen argues that the two convicts’ stories don’t match. Besides Stuckey and McCallum each putting the never-recovered murder weapon in the other’s hand, they gave differing details of their encounter with Blenner leading up to the kidnapping. Also, Stuckey said McCallum shot Blenner three times, while McCallum claimed Stuckey shot Blenner once.

The only matching detail in the two accounts, according to Michelen, was that both said the killing occurred at night — but the medical examiner determined Blenner was killed in the mid-afternoon.

The initial 1985 investigation found palm prints on the vehicle and on the kerosene can used to set the Buick ablaze, as well as several fingerprints on objects inside the car — but none matched Stuckey or McCallum.

Michelen convinced former District attorney Charles Hynes — the successor to Elizabeth Holtzman, who sent the pair to jail — to put the case before his Convictions Integrity Unit in 2011.

The unit used new DNA technology to analyze saliva samples from cigarette butts and a marijuana roach found in the vehicle. They discovered the DNA on the smokes matched another man with a criminal record, who couldn’t account for how his cigarette butts ended up in Blenner’s car. But Hynes’s office decided that was not enough to exonerate McCallum, pointing out that both he and Stuckey confessed to the crime after interrogations of less than an hour — while studies show 85 percent of false confessions come after at least six hours of grilling.

McCallum’s decision to maintain his innocence has cost him, as he has been repeatedly turned down for parole for failing to express regret.

McCallum’s case has attracted some star power. Michelen took up the convict’s cause at the personal request of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the boxer wrongly convicted in 1966 of a triple homicide, only to have his conviction overturned in 1985, following widespread public outcry and a Bob Dylan song.

Also, Brooklyn attorney John O’Hara — whom Hynes indicted in 1996 on the obscure felony charge of voting in the incorrect location after O’Hara worked on the campaigns of candidates Hynes opposed — has joined McCallum’s legal team pro-bono. O’Hara said McCallum’s situation was a key reason why he worked to see Thompson elected District Attorney last year.

“Throughout the DA’s race, David McCallum was a constant reminder of what was at stake. If Hynes got re-elected, David McCallum, wrongfully convicted almost 30 years ago, would eventually die in prison,” O’Hara said.

Thompson’s office declined to comment on whether it would review McCallum’s case.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

Pin It
Print this story Permalink

Reader Feedback

Ken Klonsky from Vancouver, BC says:
This article is completely factual; it's good to see such accurate and scrupulous reporting.
Feb. 3, 3:35 pm
Richard from Park Slope says:
An innocent man spent 30 yearsin prison.

It dosent get any worsethan that.
Feb. 3, 4:18 pm
CJ from Brooklyn Heights says:
Were any of Hynes cases legit?
Feb. 3, 4:24 pm
Another Reader from Brooklyn says:
After reading this closing a few lanes on a bridge isnt so bad
Feb. 3, 5:32 pm
David from Canarsie says:
Because of cases like this and the fact that DA's are always unwilling to revisit cases and/or admit wrongdoing because of political ambition, I, an intended victim in a shooting where a murder was committed, remain a staunch opponent of the death penalty since this conviction could have easily gone down that unfortunate road.
Feb. 4, 12:58 am
Andre from Gravesend says:
I'll pray that justice is finally served
Feb. 4, 1:51 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
More cases need this kind of looking into. The Brooklyn DA has been crooked since before I was old enough to vote, and I made damn sure when I was on jury duty we didn't believe a single word of police testimony (sorry, but Patrick Pogan ruined it for the badge wearing thugs). It's unbelievable how this happened so often, but now we know how to nullify.
Feb. 4, 10:50 pm
Peter Engel from Fort Greene says:
Only now are we really understanding just how bad things got in the Brooklyn District Attorney's office under Charles Hynes' 23-year reign. The shame of it is that Hynes was honest and a fighter for the rights of minorities. He prosecuted the Howard Beach case. I guess all those years in scratch-my-back politics made made him lazy, rotten and venal.
Feb. 5, 12:10 pm
hillary williams from canada ontario says:
its sad to see such a cases you are a very stong man David an i hope an pray that you get out
June 5, 1:18 am
Jamie from Toronto, ON says:
I deeply apologize David for the way this world has treated you. Please know that not everyone is as narrow minded as the people who you have had to deal with. I am truly inspired by your faith, and respect you dearly for it. How you can still be forgiving like this; I cannot imagine the strength you have. I am so happy that you have a close nit group of supporters helping you through this time. I have a feeling that now that more and more people are getting to see your documentary and reviewing your case, that someone will have the guts to do what is right for you; and settle this once and for all. Stay strong David, my family and I send our love, support, and prayers.
June 9, 12:17 am
Rocco from Wasaga Beach, Ontario says:
David, I just saw your story on a documentary and I'd like to hook you up with a place to work and live when (yes when) you get out of that mistake.

Look me up!
June 10, 10:11 pm
Megan from Barrie, Ontario says:
David, I just watched the documentary about your story and how you have been wrongfully accused. I am struck with the strength you have for not admitting to guilt to make your life easier. You must wonder 'why' all the time and still you fight on. You are someone to be admired and I for one, would be more than pleased to have you in my home, at my table with my family and honored to call you my friend. My prayers are with you that you are released, soon, and that you find love and happiness and have children of your own. Take care and God Bless you...stay strong!!
June 18, 3:14 pm
Rachel from Windsor, ON says:
I just watched your documentary David. I am deeply saddened to hear about what you have been through and what you continue to go through.
The documentary was very well done. I truly hope that it brings more awareness to the corrupt justice system in the US. It is my understanding that The United States of America has the highest incarceration rate of any other country. It is sad that these people in a position of power, put their political gain and interests above doing what is right.
I will continue to pray for you and other wrongfully convicted victims. I hope that one day soon justice is served and you are set free.

For more information on other cases similar to David's visit The Innocence Project's web page. You will be astonished at how often this happens in the US.
Oct. 1, 10:20 pm
Devin from Toronto,Ontario says:
I did a lil bit of time for a crime I commited nd what kept me good til release was 1)never forgetting that one day I'd be free (not knowing at all even worse feeling) and 2) was that their were innocent people doing twice or 3x the time I'm doin and they keeping they head up. David McCallum is a name I won't forget..straight up hero in his own way. An idol too. To have to admit to murder for a second chance at ur freedom is a joke. There's nothing u could have done better david if ur reading this know that if it wasn't for this justice system and the jails needing people to fill them you would of been free a while ago. Keep ur head up bro on the brighter side of things some live til 120yrs old in which case u have not even lived half your life.
Oct. 1, 10:51 pm
Devin from Toronto,Ontario says:
We all go through things and perservier thru the bad things. Keep fightin. U got a whole life ahead of you.
Oct. 1, 10:57 pm
Elizabeth from Hamilton, ON, Canada says:
David, the documentary done by your friends is just astounding. First, I pray for you that you may know our God and Saviour as your "own" personal Saviour for everlasting life. Secondly, I pray for the Brooklyn Da and the new lawyer Ken Thompson that they will all be successful in presenting your case in the right light so that you can be released from prison. You are a remarkable person to go through all this injustice with such patience . I pray that you will soon be home with your loving family.
Oct. 1, 11:09 pm
Patti from Thornhill, Ontario says:
To David and all those caring individuals who are working on your behalf:
As an observant Jew and one who will be entering Yom Kippur tomorrow night on Kol Nidrei to make atonement for not just my own transgressions but for all those who may not be able to make it to a synagogue, I will also make a prayer for you and those of you who have been unjustly punished. David, when you pray, pray with a very loud voice because God needs to hear you. Never underestimate the power of prayer because up until now the people in the places who have the power to release you have not been listening to you or your advocates. I see the day when you can walk proud and free. You are an inspiration to humanity.
Oct. 2, 7 pm
Patti from Thornhill, Ontario says:
To David and all those caring individuals who are working on your behalf:
As an observant Jew and one who will be entering Yom Kippur tomorrow night on Kol Nidrei to make atonement for not just my own transgressions but for all those who may not be able to make it to a synagogue, I will also make a prayer for you and those of you who have been unjustly punished. David, when you pray, pray with a very loud voice because God needs to hear you. Never underestimate the power of prayer because up until now the people in the places who have the power to release you have not been listening to you or your advocates. I see the day when you can walk proud and free. You are an inspiration to humanity.
Oct. 2, 7 pm
Sang from Scarborough says:
David, you are my hero. You are freer in spirit than many of us outside. I will pray for your release and that God keep you strong and safe.
Oct. 6, 12:38 am
Brian S from Scarborough says:
David you are a wonderful human being with so much courage and strength. The documentary really opened my eyes to see how unjust the system is and how strong you are for not holding any grudges and for looking forward for a release that will come, God willing. You have inspired me and i hope many others too. Just keep believing and envisioning yourself walk out because dreams do come true. I send love and support from Toronto and will pray for you.
Oct. 7, 2:56 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Links