New York State is paying $3.4 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a Long Island man who served 17 years in prison upstate after being wrongfully convicted of murdering his parents.
Martin Tankleff, whose double murder conviction was overturned in 2008, still has a separate federal civil rights lawsuit pending against Suffolk County, ex-Homicide Squad Det. K. James McCready and others.
“I hope to expose the misconduct that caused my wrongful conviction so that it does not happen to anyone else,” Tankleff, who has been attending law school since his release, said in a statement in which he thanked those who stood by him over the past 25 years.
Tankleff had been convicted of fatally stabbing his parents, Arlene and Seymour Tankleff, in their Belle Terre home in 1988 when he was 17.
He was released from prison in 2007 after an appellate court vacated his conviction and all charges were dropped a year later. Prosecutors declined to retry the case.
A legal team representing Tankleff, now 42, has said that his confession was coerced and that the real killer is one of his father’s business associates who denied responsibility and who authorities have not charged in connection with the deaths.
Tankleff and his team have said McCready tricked Tankleff into signing a false confession by lying to Tankleff. They said the detective told Tankleff that his father had told detectives that the then-teenager was the killer.
“We have developed powerful new forensic evidence demonstrating Marty’s innocence and showing that his parents were murdered by assailants who acted with efficiency and brutality,” said one of Tankleff’s attorneys, Barry Scheck of Manhattan-based Neufeld Scheck & Brustin.
Another member of Tankleff’s legal team, Bruce Barket of Garden City-based Barket, Marion, Epstein & Kearon, said the new evidence confirms that his client is innocent.
“This settlement is one more step in the long road to right a terrible injustice,” he said. “The next step will be a full public trial in federal court exposing the wrongdoing by law enforcement and making sure it does not happen to anyone else.”