Retired NYPD detective Louis Scarcella, now 61, is accused of fabricating false confessions, coaching witnesses, and rewarding witnesses for testimony in cases going back at least 20 years. One witness, drug addict Teresa Gomez, was used as a witness in several different murder trials. She was the only witness in when Alvena Jennette, 49, was convicted.
“How is it possible a detective could use a witness in that many murder trials without any red flags being raised?” Jennette asked.
Derrick Hamilton, who was paroled in 2011 after the Daily News reported Scarcella’s only witness had recanted her claim that Hamilton killed her boyfriend.
When Scarcella arrested him, the detective made a shocking admission, according to Hamilton.
“He told me, ‘I know you didn’t commit this murder, but I don’t care,’ ” he said.
Of course, this kind of thing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Cops and prosecutors are rarely unaware of the corrupt behavior of their associates, but they are rarely held accountable. Law enforcement has a culture of secrecy that permeates the profession. Finding the truth and ensuring that justice is done takes a back seat to cranking out arrests, getting convictions, and supplying the prison industrial complex with fresh warm bodies. Even judges are part of the problem.
Lawyer Ron Kuby is representing another man Scarcella helped put away, Shakaba Shakur, 48, who is 26 years into a 40-years-to-life murder sentence.
Scarcella somehow managed to get admissions — which were not witnessed, recorded or written.
“You’d think after two or three or five of these magical confessions, some judge somewhere would say, ‘Hmm . . . ’ ” Kuby said.