Johnny Hincapie, a man who did 25 years in prison for the 1990 NYC subway murder of Brian Watkins, a Mormon tourist who was in New York City for the U.S. Open, will see his case play out on the next Dateline NBC. Johnny Hincapie has always stated that he was innocent of the crime. His story is one of heartbreak and betrayal that ended in triumph after witnesses finally came forward to tell the truth, causing Hincapie’s case to be overturned. Today, Hincapie is a free man, and Dateline NBC was there in the courtroom to capture all the drama unfold.
The death of Brian Watkins is credited as the case that changed the crime rate in New York City. Before 1990, NYC was a slaughterhouse that saw crime numbers rise into the thousands. In the year 1990, more than 2,000 people were killed. According to Dateline NBC researchers, Brian Watkins’ murder was number 1,585 that year.
Brian Watkins’ case made national headlines after he was stabbed in the chest on a subway platform in NYC. Hours earlier, Watkins and his family attended the U.S Open. Everyone who knew Brian Watkins stated that he and his family were huge fans of tennis. They were absolutely overjoyed to be attending the tennis match in NYC, where they would get a chance to meet some star players.
Traveling from Provo, Utah, the Watkins family had made several trips to New York City over the years. What lured the Watkins to New York every year was the tennis match, the exotic foods, the diverse cultures, and the big city lights. Unfortunately, the night took a tragic turn after Brian Watkins, along with his parents and brother, boarded a subway bound for Greenwich Village, where they would happen upon a group of thugs who needed money to get into a popular disco club that Labor Day weekend.
Authorities say that on the night of September 2, the Roseland Ballroom club was the place to be. Everyone was going to be there, showing off their latest clothing and faded-out haircuts. The place was a popular hangout for teens, but it was also known as a shady place that would often erupt in gunfire before night’s end. Sadly, it was this rowdy group of young men who confronted the Watkins family in the subway station on 53rd and 7th Avenue that night. They robbed and attacked Brian Watkins’ father, Sherwin, and they pushed his mother, Karen, to the ground. It was then that Brian attempted to help his mother. Sadly, at some point during the altercation, 22-year-old Brian Watkins received a stab wound to the chest. He was later transported to the hospital, where he died about 40 minutes later.
In the hours after the NYC subway attack, police launched a fierce search for the persons responsible for the slaying. Community members and police officials were outraged. Even local news outlets at the time demanded that the mayor do something about the crime overtaking the city.
Police soon received a tip that led to the arrest of seven teens who were said to be responsible for the attack. Within hours, they arrested and charged eight teenagers who were all 18 years of age: Yull Garry Morales, Anthony Andersen, Pascual Carpenter, Ricardo Nova, Emiliano Fernandez, Ricardo Lopez, Louis Fernando Montiero, and Johnny Hincapie. Police said that it was Yull Morales who killed Brian Watkins.
Over the years, Johnny Hincapie tried to tell everyone that he was innocent of the crimes. His mother always believed in her son. She begged for anyone to listen to the truth because her son was imprisoned for something he had no part of, stating that he wasn’t even at the location when the subway mugging took place. The sad part about it is that people knew that he had been wrongly convicted, and they sat on the information — keeping the truth hidden for more than two decades. It was only after his story got into the right hands that they saw some possible hope to have the truth heard. A judge granted him that wish after his case was tossed out. Johnny Hincapie and his family were ecstatic to finally have him home.
Here is what Johnny Hincapie told the New York Daily News.
“As time went by, I started visualizing my release. I actually started believing that sooner or later, the truth was going to rise up from the ground itself. As they say, we can bury the truth, but sooner or later it is going to rise up, and you can’t do anything about it.”
To get a more in-depth look at the Johnny Hincapie-Brian Watkins story, check out Dateline NBC on Friday at 9/8 central. Read the Inquisitr’s coverage of Daniel Villegas and Alexandra Kogut Dateline cases.
[Image via Free Johnnie Hincapie/Facebook]