A federal judge has thrown out the murder conviction of a Queens man imprisoned since 2002 for killing a tenant patrol leader in a fusillade of gunfire at a Far Rockaway housing project.
Tullie (Birdie) Hyman must be released from state prison within 90 days.
Hyman has maintained that he is innocent and that he was falsely implicated in the shooting by witness Shaquana Ellis, who has since recanted her trial testimony.
“Until today, the criminal justice system has failed Tullie and his family,” said his appeals lawyer Mark DeMarco.
According to the NYDaily News,Brooklyn Federal Judge Raymond Dearie ruled Wednesday that it’s clear that Ellis did not witness the shooting.
Hyman’s former lawyer had hired a private eye who determined it was impossible for Ellis to have seen what she claimed from the vantage point of a third-floor window, but the investigator did not testify at Hyman’s trial due to a fee dispute.
Hyman is serving 21 years to life for the murder.
Ellis testified at a hearing in Brooklyn Federal Court last December that she was threatened at gunpoint to finger Hyman as the shooter, but she could not identify who made the threat because she claimed he was wearing a bandana across his face.
“That night, me walking home, my life and my family’s life was threatened. I had no choice,” she testified.
The gunman “said if I didn’t point Tullie out (to the police) they were gonna come and kill me and my family.”
She said she came forward because “I’ve been living with this lie for years, and I want the truth to be told.”