Articles Tagged with Antonio Yarbough

The clouds parted just in time for Antonio Yarbough to enjoy a piece of cheesecake on a Manhattan rooftop last Thursday. He was celebrating five years since he walked out of a Brooklyn courtroom a free man. But he still does not know who killed his family.

IMG_3241-225x300EVWSG4FLI66A4VDF6ZCFQUHW2M-200x300Friends, relatives, reporters, and not-a-few lawyers gathered to honor Tony and help him celebrate his exoneration, just as we celebrated on a Manhattan rooftop in June 2014. Tony’s wrongful conviction for the slaughter of his family — which was actually committed by an unknown man who raped and murdered a fourth person seven years later — was one of the most appalling episodes of the reign of Charles Hynes as Brooklyn District Attorney. Hynes was defeated by Ken Thompson in 2013. Thompson agreed Antonio should be released after just five weeks on the job.

Antonio has spent the last five years recovering from what the state did to him. He has reconnected with his extended family and old friends. He has made new friends. He has worked at a hotel. He now donates his time to the Alliance of Families for Justice, where he sits on the board (alongside actor Danny Glover) and provides support for families affected by the criminal justice system. Antonio has touched countless lives with his quiet grace and heroic resilience. As he said on Piers Morgan the day after his release, he has no time for bitterness.

Antonio Yarbough, just three months out of prison for a triple homicide he did not commit, paid his respects to the murder victims on Mother’s Day. As reported in the New York Daily News, Tony laid two bouquets on the graves of his mom, Annie Yarbough, and his sister, Chavonn Barnes, at a cemetery in New Jersey. The graves are unmarked but the manager of the graveyard reached out to Tony today to tell him an anonymous donor had come forward to provide gravestones for the sites. Annie and Chavonn were murdered along with a 12-year-old friend of Chavonn’s in June 1992. Police coerced false confessions out of Tony and his 15-year-old friend Sharrif Wilson. Then the real killer went on to kill again seven years later, leaving behind his DNA in the body of a woman killed in a stairwell in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Sharrif recanted before and after his testimony against Tony, then passed a lie detector test early this year. In 2008, the Law Office of Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma took up Tony’s case, moving the Brooklyn Supreme Court over a period of nearly four years before the new Brooklyn District Attorney, Kenneth Thompson, agreed that the case should be dismissed and Tony and Sharrif were freed on February 6, 2014. Yesterday was Tony’s first Mother’s Day as a free man in 22 years.

Antonio Yarbough discussed his exoneration after 22 years in prison on WPIX Channel 11’s morning news program. He was accompanied by attorney Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma who talked about the five-year legal battle to prove that he did not kill his mother, sister and sister’s twelve-year-old friend. For more information on the case, click here.

Twenty one years, seven months and nineteen days after Tony Yarbough and Sharrif Wilson were taken into custody for a brutal triple homicide, they walked out of a Brooklyn courtroom today, cleared of the murders of Tony’s family. Justice Raymond Guzman granted our unopposed motion to vacate the verdicts under Criminal Procedure Law Section 440.10. The People moved to dismiss the indictments. Tony and Sharrif joined their families and started their new lives.

Tony’s freedom is the culmination of more than five years of work by our firm, including contributions from extraordinary law student interns (now attorneys) Tess Cohen and Martha Lineberger, collaboration with co-counsel Philip Smallman and Sharrif’s lawyer Adam Perlmutter, and generous advice from countless friends and colleagues like Risa Gerson, Joel Rudin and Barry Scheck. My family, friends and business partners like generously donated money to the investigation. Tony’s friends and extended family like Eric Barden and Sandra Vivas stuck by him, bringing me the case and making sure every avenue was pursued. The Daily News (my old employer) broke the DNA story, covered the case, getting the details right and, in the end, advocating for the truth in the form of columns by Denis Hamill. Brooklyn’s new district attorney, Kenneth Thompson, advised by homicide prosecutor Mark Hale, took about a month after the final DNA report came in to arrive at and announce that the People would not oppose the motion. It took a good five minutes to unshackle Tony and Sharrif in the courtroom. It will take a lot longer than that for them to recover from what was done to them.

Here is a smattering of media coverage on the case:

On June 18, 1992, 18-year-old Tony Yarbough came home to find his family murdered. Through a series of systemic failures, he was wrongly convicted of this horrible crime. The real murderer, according to DNA evidence, went on to kill again seven years later. He has never been caught. A polygraph of Tony’s only accuser, an expert report proving the victims died while he was miles away in Manhattan, and the medical examiner’s DNA report linking the murders to another killer all show beyond any shadow of a doubt that Tony is innocent and always has been. An affidavit by Tony’s trial lawyer shows he was denied a fair trial. The Law Office of Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma has been investigating the case and pushing for Tony’s release since 2009.

On Thursday, Tony will be brought to New York from Attica Correctional Facility. He and his co-defendant Sharrif Wilson will face Judge Raymond Guzman at Kings County Supreme Court. The People will be represented by the new Brooklyn District Attorney, Kenneth Thompson. The evidence is all in: either Mr. Thompson will agree that Sharrif and Tony are the wrong men, or attorneys Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, Adam Perlmutter and Philip Smallman will ask Judge Guzman for an expeditious hearing to finally resolve the case in court.

Either way, no evidence exists implicating Tony in the murders. The evidence that does exist overwhelmingly exonerates him. Our system is too good to permit him to stay imprisoned much longer.

Please see our updated page about the case of Antonio Yarbough, falsely imprisoned for 22 years for the murders of his family. The medical examiner’s DNA report is in, the Daily News has called for his release and his co-defendant — the only real witness against him — passed a lie detector test confirming his 2005 recantation.

Antonio YarboughPlease check out the Free Tony Yarbough page which has been updated with new information about the case, the DNA results, the related murder of Migdalia Ruiz in Sunset Park in 1999, and documents not previously available. Tony and Sharrif will be in court in Brooklyn on Monday, October 7, 2013.  Please contact us for more information.

Tony Yarbough is waiting to be freed.  DNA evidence revealed in Brooklyn Supreme Court last week shows that an unknown third person murdered Antonio Yarbough’s family, as reported in the New York Daily News today. The evidence comes in the form of a “hit report” issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York.  The report matches DNA found on Annie Yarbough’s fingernails at the murder scene in 1992 to DNA found in the vagina of a rape-and-murder victim in 1999 — a time when Tony and his co-defendant were incarcerated. As we said in court last Friday, it is our position that combined with all the other facts and circumstances of the case — the only witness’s recantation, the crime-scene evidence showing the murders took place while Tony and his co-defendant were in Manhattan, and the lack of any conceivable motive or physical evidence tying Tony to the crime — the DNA evidence conclusively shows that Tony was wrongly convicted. We are just waiting for the Kings County District Attorney’s Office to complete its review and hoping that Tony will be able to go home soon. Tony and his co-defendant, Sharrif Wilson, are expected to be in court on October 7, 2013. We will update the Free Tony Yarbough page soon with more information.

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