June 23, 2020 By Christian Murray
A Queens man was exonerated today after spending 25 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.
Samuel Brownridge, 45, was cleared of the crime after being convicted in 1995 for an execution-style shooting in St. Albans.
The murder conviction was vacated this afternoon after the Queens District Attorney’s office filed a joint motion with Brownridge’s defense lawyer stating that the evidence in the case was flawed. The case was built around two eyewitness accounts that were deemed erroneous. There was no physical evidence.
Brownridge was released from prison last year after serving 25 years behind bars. He was out on parole when he attended a court hearing on the case today. Today’s ruling expunged his record and ended his parole.
Brownridge was wrongly convicted of killing Darryle Adams, who was fatally shot in St. Albans on March 7, 1994. Adams was shot in the head after he was approached by a group of four men.
Days after the murder, Brownridge was identified as the shooter by a witness who said he had been threatened by the group prior to the incident. Another man claimed to see Brownridge do it from a distance. Both accounts proved to be unreliable.
Brownridge said he was at home with his girlfriend at the time of the killing.
Three of the men who were part of the group have now admitted that Adams was not shot by Brownridge. They say that Garfield Brown, who was also seen by another witness with the group that evening, was the killer.
Brown, a violent felon, was killed in a police shootout in 2002 in connection with him being wanted for murders in New York and Connecticut.
Brownridge, in court today, thanked his pro bono defense attorney Donna Aldea, his family and supporters. However, he expressed his outrage toward the justice system.
“I sat in a jail cell every night waiting for this day, while others went home to their families knowing that the system failed and law enforcement did not do what they could to free an innocent man,” Brownridge said.
“I sit down sometimes and say to myself, why me? My twenties, thirties and half of my forties are gone.”
Brownridge is the first man to be exonerated since District Attorney Melinda Katz established the Conviction Integrity Unit in January.
“This is a profoundly poignant day for Mr. Brownridge,” Katz said. “After decades of voicing his innocence—this man who served 25 years for a crime he did not commit—will finally be unencumbered by this miscarriage of justice.”