A New York City man was robbed of the justice he deserved when, after serving twenty-three years for a crime he didn’t commit, he suffered a fatal asthma attack just days before his $124 million wrongful imprisonment lawsuit.
Fifty-five-year-old William Lopez had been arrested back in 1989 in connection with the murder of a drug dealer. He was sentenced to a minimum of twenty-five years in prison, and was forced to leave his wife and fourteen-month-old child behind while he lived behind bars.
In recent years, however, much attention has shifted towards overzealous arrests made in New York in the 80s and early 90s, and as a result, Lopez’s case came under scrutiny as well.
After looking into it, Judge Nicolas Garaufis overturned Lopez’s sentencing, saying that he had been victim to a “deceitful trial prosecutor” “ill-prepared defense attorneys” and that the weak initial evidence that placed him behind bars had been effectively “reduced to rubble.” He went on to say “the result is that a likely innocent man has been in prison for over 23 years. He should be released with the State’s apology.”
Lopez, who had mentioned being upset with how the legal system had not changed, despite one wrongful imprisonment lawsuit after another, was very enthusiastic about his lawsuit, and hopeful that justice would finally be served for him and his loved ones.
His fatal asthma attack has not stopped the lawsuit, however, as his wife (who will be a representative to his estate) is expected to continue to pursue the case. She and Lopez remained married to each other during his entire incarceration, while she raised their child alone.