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Staten Island judge denies new trial request for man claiming innocence in 1992 murder

Foster Thompson's family frustrated after new trial request rejected
Posted at 2:02 PM, Feb 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-13 18:58:36-05

STATEN ISLAND — A judge on Staten Island rejected a new trial request Thursday for a man serving a life sentence despite a videotaped confession made by another man.

Foster Thompson has maintained his innocence since his 1992 conviction in the shooting deaths of Cynthia Browning and Alton Staley.

His attorney, Abe George, blamed the conviction on misconduct by the Staten Island district attorney’s office and police.

Another man, known as “Jamaican Tony,” confessed to the shootings during an interview with a private investigator in Jamaica in 2017, according to George.

The district attorney’s office and police also withheld evidence from Thompson’s defense that would have proven him innocent, including a detective’s interview with a witness who placed “Jamaican Tony” at the scene, George said.

During the hearing Thursday morning, Supreme Court Justice Alexander Jeong denied the request on the grounds the evidence provided was not enough. Jeong submitted a 30-page explanation before adjourning the hearing.

When the motion was brought nearly two years ago, George said some people evoked the Eric Garner case and told him Thompson would not get a fair hearing.

“We thought when the judge granted us a hearing on this motion – and that was the first hearing that a judge has ever given on Staten Island on a motion to vacate - that we might have a chance,” George said following the hearing Thursday outside Richmond County Supreme Court. “But clearly if the judge is going to feel that the confession of a man who purported to commit the murder and an accomplice who came forward when she was 16 years old to testify here today that our client did not do it, wasn’t good enough for this judge — we weren’t going to get justice here on Staten Island.”

George and Thompson's parents also accused the assistant district attorney and the judge of refusing to interview "Jamaican Tony" if the defense arranged it.

"Where's the justice? It's so sad, but it is what it is," Thompson's mother said after the hearing.

Thompson’s defense will file a motion to appeal the case. They’re “extremely confident” the appellate court will reverse the judge’s decision, George said.