A court has overturned the conviction of a Jewish man who was sentenced to four years for his role in the group beating of a gay black man.
Mayer Herskovic was sentenced in September 2016 after Taj Patterson identified him as the man who stuck a thumb in his eye and blinded him during the beating, according to the New York Post. Patterson claimed he was jumped and beaten by an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood watch group because he was falsely accused of vandalizing cars in a Brooklyn neighborhood.
An appellate court threw out the conviction due to Patterson’s “inability to positively identify any of his attackers, the varying accounts regarding the incident and the DNA evidence, which was less than convincing.”
“Notably, the complainant and others who testified at trial gave conflicting accounts of the assault,” the jurists continued. “Among other things, the complainant testified that the person who pulled off his sneaker was the same person who shoved a thumb into his eye. He referred to this person as the ‘ringleader’ and one of the men who initially chased him. However, he also testified that the person he identified as the ringleader was not the defendant.”
Herskovic was the only member of the group to take his case to trial. Two men took a plea deal that resulted in no jail time, and charges were dropped against two others.
Donna Aldea, Herskovic’s lawyer, released a statement praising the decision.
“Mayer is overjoyed,” Aldea, said. “The decision means that, for all intents and purposes, he is innocent.”
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office said they “respect the court’s decision.”
Patterson said he needs “time to process” and refused to give any additional comments to The Post. His lawyer, Andrew Stoll, filed a lawsuit against the city for showing favoritism toward the group. It is still pending.
“Our civil suit continues against the city for the ‘get out of jail free’ cards it hands out to the ultra-Orthodox communities in Brooklyn,” Stoll told The New York Times.
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