In 1990, Johnny Hincapie, a Colombian immigrant, was one of seven men convicted in the stabbing death of 22-year-old Brian Watkins, a Utah man who was in New York with his parents for the U.S. Open tennis tournament when he was killed in a subway station. Now, Hincapie has been set free on a $1 bail by State Supreme Court Justice Eduardo Padro, who said new evidence that Hincapie may not have been involved in the crime warranted a new trial.
Hincapie has been in prison for more than two decades and was sentenced to 25 years to life in stabbing death of Watkins. During his incarceration, he has completed high school and earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, according to a news article at Kutv.com. Hincapie maintains he is innocent of the allegations against him, and said that he was in a different area of the subway station when the stabbing occurred. He is now 43 years old.
Watkins and his parents were on their way to dinner when according to police, the family was jumped by a group of young men who were attempting to rob money from innocent people so they could go to a dance hall. Watkins’ mother was reportedly kicked and punched by the gang, his father slashed. Watkins is said to have chased the gang of attackers up two stairways after being stabbed in the chest before he collapsed beneath a turnstile.
Hincapie was not the individual who was accused of doing the actual stabbing, however because he was allegedly with the group of seven, authorities claim he bore responsibility in Watkins’s death.
Hincapie’s conviction was overturned on Tuesday, October 6. For now he is a free man, unless prosecutors decide to retry him for the killing, or appeal the judge’s decision to free him. Hincapie began his efforts in this latest appeal of his conviction in 2013.
Many who are convicted of murder or other serious/violent crimes believe they have no other options, that they will spend decades or the rest of their lives behind bars. The fact is, there are other legal avenues including the appeal, which is essentially a second chance to present your case although the process does not involve another trial, simply an intensive review of the case by a panel of judges in the appeals court.
If you have been wrongly convicted of a crime in Michigan, or believe errors were made in the criminal justice system or your rights violated, consult with a highly experienced Michigan criminal appeals attorney. All individuals have constitutional rights, and the criminal justice system is designed to protect anyone who is wrongly or falsely accused of a crime.