A judge has said he wants a white man he convicted in 1999 of killing a black man to be freed because he found him guilty due to his own reverse racism.
Frank Barbaro, a retired Brooklyn Supreme Court judge, said he convicted Donald Kagan, now 39, of shooting Wavell Wint, 22, because he saw the man as ‘a bigot’.
He said that he had denied Kagan a fair trial because of his own civil rights activist opinions.
‘Mr. Kagan had no intent to kill that man,’ Barbaro, 86, told Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice ShawnDya Simpson in court, the New York Post reported.
‘I believe now that I was seeing this young white fellow as a bigot, as someone who assassinated an African-American.’
He said his work during the civil-rights movement caused his bias in the case.
‘The question of discrimination against African-American people became part of my fiber–my very fiber,’ he said in court.
Barbaro, who also served 23 years in the state Assembly, said that because of his views he didn’t consider a justification defense by Kagan in the trial, which had no jury.
But ever since, he has been able to stop thinking about it and when he read about people who were mistakenly sent to jail and later exonerated, he would think of Kagan, he said.
‘I was prejudiced during the trial,’ he admitted to the court.
‘I realized I made a terrible mistake and there was a man in jail because of my mistake.’
Barbaro contacted defense attorney Jeff Adler, who filed a motion in 2011 to overturn Kagan’s conviction, the Post reported, and the case will now be revisited.
The Supreme Court Justice will either present an acquittal, a retrial or a plea deal for time served.
Kagan was convicted of shooting Wint after they struggled over Kagan’s chain outside a movie theater in New York in 1998.
Wint left behind a four-year-old child, Wavell Wint, Jr.