A New York man has been freed after spending 38 years behind bars for a heinous crime he denies committing. On Thursday, a judge vacated 56-year-old David Bryant’s conviction on the grounds that his lawyer failed to adequately defend him at trial.
Nearly four decades ago, Bryant was convicted of raping and murdering eight-year-old Karen Smith. The young girl was last seen alive on March 28, 1975 as she headed to a nearby store to buy a candy bar. Hours later she was found beaten, raped, and stabbed to death, her lifeless body left in the stairwell of her apartment building.
David Bryant, who was 18 at the time, was taken into custody and charged less than 24 hours after young Karen’s body was discovered.
Throughout his 38 years in prison, Bryant has continually maintained his innocence regarding the child’s death.
Although DNA evidence was collected at the crime scene, Bryant’s court-appointed defense attorney failed to consult with experts in the field of blood and semen testing during the 1975 trial.
According to Paul Casteleiro, Bryant’s current lawyer, subsequent tests revealed that his client’s blood type did not match any of the samples collected at the scene of the child’s murder.
“David’s biogroup substance is not in the semen sample, meaning that David is excluded as being the semen donor, meaning David is innocent of this case.” he explained. “It was never brought up at trial.”
Bronx Supreme Court Justice Seth Marvin agreed that Bryant was deprived of a fair trial and freed the man after 38 years in prison. Bryant, stunned by the ruling, reportedly broke down in tears as the judge ordered his immediate release.
“I just wanna go to church and get on my knees and pray for my mother and father because they never believed me,” David Bryant explained following his release. “I wish they were alive today so that I could tell them that I didn’t do it.”
He also conveyed how overwhelming freedom can be after 38 years behind prison walls. “You come out and you see all the changes and you don’t know if you’re going to make the adaptations to this new life,” he explained. However, Bryant seemed to have very simple requests for his first experiences as a free man:
“Dunkin Donuts, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pepsi soda. Having those was like being a little kid again, you know, because those were the last things that I remembered when I was out. I got to try to learn how to live again, it’s like the kid, I got to learn how to walk.”
What do you think about David Bryant being freed from prison? After 38 years behind bars, do you think he’ll have trouble adjusting to his freedom?
[Top image via Shutterstock]