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Man convicted in double homicide may get new trial
Rochester, N.Y. -- A judge has ordered a hearing to determine whether a man in prison for the last 12 years was wrongly convicted of a double murder.
"I think the facts point to who the real murderer is," Defense Attorney Van White said.
The case is raising questions about why the Monroe County District Attorney's office did not act earlier on information they received that another man had confessed.
It took less than two hours of deliberations for a jury to convict Charles Pierre of killing two people in an arson that occured on First Street in Rochester in August of 2002. Pierre was the boyfriend of Clara Sconiers, one of the two people killed.
But, Pierre has always maintained his innocence, and suspicion is now falling on another man who lived in the house on First Street.
Darrell Boyd lived upstairs in the First Street home. He was recently convicted in a cold case from 2007, when he beat a woman to death and set a fire to cover it up. During his time in Monroe County Jail for that crime, he confided in another inmate named Dolph Sturgis.
Sturgis has a paralegal degree, and it was common for inmates to confide in him.
"He was sort of the jailhouse lawyer. People would go to him and ask him for advice," White said.
In a letter, the District Attorney's Office acknowledged Boyd told the inmate, his wife and two others that he was responsible for the 2002 murders. According to the letter, Boyd killed two people with a baseball bat and set the house on fire.
Prosecutors were made aware of Boyd's confessions to others in May of 2012 but did not send the letter with that information until November of the following year. Meanwhile, Charles Pierre has remained behind bars in Attica.
"They sent the letter, why don't they dismiss the charges?" White said. "One week passes, two weeks pass...this man is still sitting in prison."
Prosecutors said at the time there was reliable evidence against Pierre, including witnesses who saw him fight with his girlfriend Clara before the fire started.
A hearing has been scheduled for June 23 to consider the new evidence.
"This is the first time in 12 years that this man has had a date that he thinks he may get justice," said White.