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 Justia.com 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: