Exoneration Granted to Mr. Sheldon Thomas, Who Served 18 Years in Prison for a Murder He Did Not Commit

Mr. Sheldon Thomas was arrested in 2004 at the age of 17, convicted of murder and other counts in 2007, and served more than 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. On Thursday, March 9, 2023, he was finally exonerated by the Conviction Review Unit of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office following an investigation by that Unit and a multi-year effort by Mr. Thomas’s defense attorneys. The District Attorney’s Office consented to vacate his conviction due to misconduct by the police, prosecutors, judge, and trial counsel.

Among other errors, Mr. Thomas was arrested based on a photo array that did not even include his photograph, a detective admitted lying in court about the mistaken identification, the judge wrongly determined there was probable cause for his arrest, and the prosecutor committed misconduct before the hearing court and at trial. Mr. Thomas’s trial attorney also exacerbated these errors, and, the District Attorney’s Office concluded, the 2009 decision of the Appellate Division, Second Department, affirming Mr. Thomas’s conviction, was incorrect and without support. According to the District Attorney’s exoneration report, Mr. Thomas “was denied due process at every stage of this case such that his conviction was fundamentally unfair.”

Anyone interested in donating directly to Mr. Thomas can do so here via a GoFundMe page. All contributions will go directly and solely to Mr. Thomas.

William G. Kastin, Assistant Attorney-in-Charge of Appellate Advocates, represented Mr. Thomas on direct appeal and throughout the wrongful conviction investigation