Man serving 25 to life has Bronx murder conviction vacated over unfair trial

THE BRONX, New York (WABC) -- A man serving 25 years to life in prison for a 2009 Bronx murder had his conviction vacated Monday, after it was determined he did not receive a fair trial.

Steven Odiase, 31, was convicted of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Juan Jerez, who was shot at the corner of Minerva Place and Creston Avenue on June 12, 2009.

His co-defendant, Daikwan Giles, confessed to the shooting, and was identified by eyewitnesses. He was convicted in the same trial.

Odiase's lawyers filed a post-conviction motion to set aside the verdict in July 2015, and then in 2016, his attorneys asked the Conviction Integrity Unit to review the case.

Assistant District Attorney Risa Gerson discovered in the case file a detective's form summarizing the canvass of the murder scene that apparently was not properly provided to the defense. The version Odiase's lawyers had was redacted and didn't include a witness' description of the shooter that did not match Odiase.

"Steven Odiase is serving 25 years to life for murder, but the Conviction Integrity Unit has uncovered potentially exculpatory evidence that was not provided to the defense at the time of trial," District Attorney Darcel Clark said. "Because Odiase did not receive a fair trial, I will ask the court on Monday, April 17, 2017, to vacate Odiase's conviction in the interest of justice so he can be freed as soon as possible while we determine whether to retry him."

Odiase walked out of court following the hearing a free man, at least for now.

"We knew there was a lot of re-investigation to be done is this case," defense attorney Pierre Sussman said. "We had done most of it. The District Attorney's Office joined us in doing that, and came to right conclusion in releasing him."

But now, for the family that wasn't sure this day would ever come, says it's time to celebrate.

"When I heard the judge saying conviction, released, it felt really good," sister Kalimah Odiase said. "Because we've been hurting for a long time. But we're very, very happy."
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