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Murder convict to get new trial

by Jane Flasch

Rochester, N.Y. -- A judge says there is credible evidence to suggest the wrong man may have spent 12 years in prison for a double murder and arson in 2002. The conviction against Charles "Teddy" Pierre has been thrown out - which could lead to a new trial.

"I don't think you can define relief better than Mr. Pierre can today," said his attorney Van White.

Pierre repeatedly wiped his eyes and fought back the tears as Judge Doug Randall read a lengthy eight page decision that concluded the new evidence "would probably change the result if a new trial were granted."

Pierre was convicted for beating Clara Sconiers and Thomas Reed in a home on First Street, then setting a fire to cover it up. But new evidence emerged when another man, Darryl Boyd, allegedly confessed to the crime, first to his wife, then to another inmate.

Boyd lived upstairs at the time. His ex-wife testified in a hearing earlier this month that he confessed to her but then threatened to kill her if she told. He allegedly made a similar confession to a fellow inmate who was also a paralegal.

That inmate, Dolph Sturgis, went to authorities.

"I'm here to see justice done," he said outside court Thursday. "I'm very concerned about an innocent man being in prison."

Pierre's attorney summed it up this way: "12 years of being accused of committing a crime you didn't commit. 12 years of people that you love and care about thinking that you committed a crime and not being able to do anything about it." He said.

Family members of both victims attended court. Some left shaking their heads less than pleased but offered only a "no comment."

It is unclear at this time whether there will be a new trial. Prosecutors intend to appeal this ruling first. "I think the judge made a decision based on his view of the facts and the law and I think the fact that we're filing an appeal says that we disagree," said Assistant District Attorney Brian Green.

Pierre was returned to Attica Prison where he has spent the last 12 years of his life. He will be brought to the Monroe County Jail and a future hearing will determine whether he will receive bail as he awaits a potential new trial.

The DA's office says it has re-opened the investigation into the crime and is testing new evidence to see if there is any connection to Darryl Boyd. "If we determined that Mr. Pierre's application was warranted in the end we would take a position consistent with that," said Green.

Van White says he is seeking justice not only for his client but for the family members of the victims. "I think they are entitled to see the right (person) in jail," he said.

Leaving the courtroom, Pierre made eye contact with a media camera covering the proceedings, and offered a smile.

Though he remained in custody, unable to speak to supporters, he sought to make eye contact with them as well. "He smiled like he's thankful," said Dolph Sturgis. "He appreciated what we did."

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Washington Times