Broadwater was convicted in 1982, and spent more than 16 years in prison. He has been denied parole at least five times because he did not confess to a crime he did not commit, according to his attorney. He passed two lie detector tests.
Broadwater, 61, has tried five times to have the conviction overturned. Even after his release, he did not give up. But that didn’t happen — until Monday, when New York State Supreme Court Justice Gordon Coffey overturned the rape ruling and other charges related to it.
The Onondaga County Prosecutor joined the motion to have the conviction voided.
Sebold described the rape that occurred when she was a student at Syracuse University in 1981 in agonizing detail in her memoirs. It was published in 1999, a year after Broadwater was released from prison.
Nearly five months after she was raped, she saw Siebold Broadwater on a Syracuse street. He reminded her of the rapist, and she reported the incident to police, Broadwater’s attorney confirmed. But later, she fails to recognize Broadwater in the police lineup.
His lawyers wrote that Broadwater was convicted on the basis of two evidence – Sebold’s account – racial identification, because the author is white and Broadwater is black – and analysis of a piece of poetry that was later determined to be defective. .
“The research found that the risk of eyewitness misidentification increases significantly when the witness and the subject are of different races,” the statement said.
As for hair analysis, in 2015, “the FBI certified that microscopic hair analysis contained errors in at least 90 percent of the cases the agency reviewed,” according to the attorneys’ press release.
“We now know that the certificate of a forensic chemist stems from the forensic approach to a large extent exposed to the hair microscope,” the assertion stated.
In “Lucky,” Siebold wrote that “the investigator and the prosecutor told her after the line-up that she had picked the wrong guy and how the prosecutor had deliberately trained her to rehabilitate her misidentification,” according to the assertion.
CNN has reached out to Siebold and her publishing company several times for comment.
Lawyers said the unreliability of the hair analysis and conversation between the prosecutor and Sebold after the lineup would have likely led to a different verdict if he had been brought to trial.
“I’m not going to taint these proceedings by saying I’m sorry,” Attorney General William Fitzpatrick said in the courtroom. “That doesn’t cut it. It should never have happened.”
Broadwater broke down in tears when the judge announced his decision.
“When the attorney general spoke to me, his words were so deep – so powerful – it shocked me,” Broadwater told CNN on Wednesday. “It made me weep with joy and happiness because a man of this size would say what he said on my behalf…it is beyond all I can say for myself.”
After his release, Broadwater remained on the sex offender list. He described how the conviction ruined his life.
He struggled to find work after his release from prison when employers learned of his criminal record.
‘I did what I could,’ he said, ‘and that was just you know – finding work for myself landscaping, clearing trees, hauling, and cleaning.’
The couple met in 1999, about a year after he was released from prison, he told CNN. After the first appointment, he gave her the texts and other documents from his case, asked her to read them and decide if she wanted to be with him.
“You believed me and gave me more strength,” he said. “I just wanted a better quality of life, but I couldn’t get better quality jobs.”
Part of the reason Broadwater’s attorney, J. David Hammond and Melissa Schwartz, in the case thanks to Tim Mochianti, who was involved in a project to develop a film adaptation of “Lucky.”
Hammond said Moshianti “had doubts that the story was the way it was portrayed in the film,” which prompted him to hire a private investigator attached to their law firm.
“It didn’t take long that we realized, well, there’s something in here,” Hammond said. He and Schwartz listened to the trial transcript and found “serious legal issues,” which prompted them to apply, he said.
Broadwater said Hammond and Schwartz are at least the fifth group of lawyers he has hired to help his case.
“I never gave up,” he said. “I could never give up and live under these conditions… I would do everything I could to prove my innocence.”
Days after the judge’s decision, Broadwater said, “It’s a very surreal feeling, which I can still feel. I’m kind of impressed—a bit scared. I’m very happy.”
As for Siebold, Broadwater said he’d like an apology.
“I sympathize with her, what happened to her,” he said. “I just hope there’s a sincere apology. I’ll accept it. I don’t feel bitter or envious of her.”