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Riverhead, NY - Conviction Tossed For Man Held 33 Years For New York Murder

Published on: May 22, 2019 10:30 PM
By: AP
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Riverhead, NY - A 62-year-old man who spent more than half his life in prison for the 1975 murder of a high school classmate had his conviction overturned Wednesday after a case review found Long Island prosecutors had long hid the fact that police looked at another possible suspect.

Other red flags in the case that put Keith Bush behind bars for 33 years included Bush’s claims that detectives used a telephone book to beat a confession out of him and a trial witness who later said she lied about seeing Bush and the victim together.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini, who went to court with Bush’s lawyer seeking to have the conviction overturned, said it’s clear to him that Bush did not kill 14-year-old Sherese Watson.

“I am truly humbled by this decision,” Bush said.

Bush was 17 when Watson’s body was found in a vacant lot in North Bellport. They had attended the same house party a few blocks away, and a witness who testified at Bush’s trial said she had seen them leave together. That woman later said she lied.


Convicted of murder and attempted sexual abuse, Bush spent 33 years in prison. He was paroled in 2007 and moved in with his mother in Bridgeport, Connecticut, but has had to register as a sex offender.

During the investigation of Watson’s death, detectives interviewed John Jones, who said he had stumbled over her body while drunk, but neither police nor prosecutors informed Bush’s lawyers or the judge at his trial about the possible suspect.

The police department’s interest in Jones, who had a long criminal record and died in 2006, finally came to light last year when authorities turned over his police statement in response to a lawsuit Bush’s lawyer filed seeking case records.

The questions surrounding Bush’s conviction led Sini to order his newly formed Conviction Integrity Unit to conduct a full review of the case.

The unit’s nine-month investigation determined that it was “forensically impossible” for Watson to have been killed in the manner described in Bush’s confession. The investigation also debunked the trial prosecutor’s theory of how the crime unfolded.

Investigators reviewing Bush’s case said that in an interview this year, the detective who took his confession alluded to using coercive tactics.

“All the evidence used to convict Mr. Bush is undermined or simply not true,” Sini said. “In fact, there’s evidence that goes to his actual innocence. There’s a much more probable suspect, and that’s John Jones.”


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Read Comments (8)  —  Post Yours »


 May 23, 2019 at 12:14 AM PaulinSaudi Says:

The government hiding things from the defense is very, very wrong.


 May 23, 2019 at 12:41 AM Chaim Says:

Why does it takes 33 years to undo such an unjust???


 May 23, 2019 at 09:54 AM Thoughtful Says:

Reply to #2  
Chaim Says:

Why does it takes 33 years to undo such an unjust???

Because #1) prosecutors in this country have ZERO OVERSIGHT and #2) more importantly they really have no soul.

They are cold blooded heartless cruel individuals who are simply interested in scoring victories for their own selfish beings....


 May 23, 2019 at 10:57 AM The Professor Says:

Reply to #2  
Chaim Says:

Why does it takes 33 years to undo such an unjust???

Unfortunately, there a few rotten apples in law enforcement who feel that the pressure from supervisors to clear their backlog justifies convicting anyone as the case is closed - because someone has to pay for the crime - and if you put a marginal person in jail at least he won't get in trouble while incarcerated. Fortunately, most people engaged in law enforcement don't think that way - but when you a develop an us vs. them attitude it becomes a lot easier to rationalize.


 May 23, 2019 at 12:32 PM kayeG Says:

#4 What is a "marginal person?" This person was a high school student when he was arrested.


 May 23, 2019 at 01:54 PM The Professor Says:

Reply to #5  
kayeG Says:

#4 What is a "marginal person?" This person was a high school student when he was arrested.

A minority male from a poor family without access to quality legal representation. The confession extracted from him under duress would never have been given had a lawyer been present during the interrogation. Need I say more?


 May 23, 2019 at 08:55 PM Aron1 Says:

This unfortunate tragedy is partially the result of apathy towards racism. We rarely hear of these miscarriages of justice involving white people.


 May 24, 2019 at 05:10 PM Anonymous Says:

To #7- Randall Adams, from Columbus, OH spent years on death row in Texas, and was imprisoned for a total of 12 years, for allegedly killing a cop. He came very close to being executed. However, his conviction was later thrown out by a Texas appeals court, after there was evidence was later uncovered, which raised sufficient doubt, as to his guilt. The prosecutors refused to retry Adams, as their judicial misconduct, would have been brought out at a retrial. Adams was released, but the state of Texas refused to pay him a penny, for 12 years of wrongful imprisonment. It appears that a statute for compensation for wrongful imprisonment doesn't exist in Texas, as is the case in other states. Incidentally, Adams was White. Therefore, these types of wrongful convictions happen to people of all races.


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