|April 2, 2010|
Former boxer wrongly imprisoned for 26 years to speak Monday
Dewey Bozella, a once-promising amateur boxer who was wrongly imprisoned for 26 years, will speak Monday, April 5 at 6 p.m. in the Nott Memorial.
His talk, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the student-run Speakers Forum.
In 1983, Bozella was convicted of the 1977 murder of 92-year-old Emma Crapser in her Poughkeepsie apartment. Authorities said Bozella, who was 18 at the time, killed Crapser after she walked in on him burglarizing her apartment.
The conviction was overturned when an appeals court found blacks had been kept off the jury. Bozella was retried and convicted in 1990 and sentenced to 20 years to life in state prison.
Bozella continued to insist he was innocent and fought to have his conviction dismissed. He was denied parole on four separate occasions, because he said “they wanted me to admit my crime and say I was sorry. I couldn’t do that. I could never admit to something I didn’t do.”
In 2007, after he had exhausted all of his appeals, Bozella convinced The Innocence Project to investigate his case, which eventually led to a ruling last October by a judge who overturned Bozella’s conviction.
Supreme Court Justice James Rooney of Putnam County agreed with Bozella’s legal team that the Dutchess County district attorney had failed to disclose crucial evidence which would have proved Bozella’s innocence.
“This court does not lightly disturb a conviction in such a serious case as this in which the defendant was twice convicted by jury verdicts of the cruel and cowardly murder of a 92-year-old woman within the sanctuary of her home,” Rooney wrote in his decision. But “the legal and factual arguments advanced ... are compelling, indeed overwhelming.”
The 50-year-old Bozella, who earned a master’s degree while in prison, is speaking to community groups about his experience.