MOSCOW, August 8 (RIA Novosti) - There is no ruling on a reopened case sparked by Frank J. Barbaro, former New York Supreme Court judge, who admitted he was racially biased when he ruled in the 1999 case of Donald Kagan who was sentenced to 15 years in prison, Headline and Global News (HNGN) reported.
“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 added.
Barbaro, a strong supporter of civil rights, claimed “reverse racism” influenced his decision in the murder trial.
In 2011, Barbaro requested a transcript of the trial from Kagan’s lawyer, Jeff Adler. The former judge said in an interview with The New York Times that the transcript confirmed his fears that he had made a biased judgment. Barbaro then contacted Adler who filed a motion in 2011 to overturn Kagan’s conviction.
In December 2013, Barbaro took the witness stand in New York State Supreme Court to testify at a hearing that his own verdict was wrong, attributing his prejudice against Kagan since he was white and the shooting victim, Wavell Wint, was black reported The New York Times.
“I was prejudiced during the trial,” Barbaro said.
Barbaro’s doubts have officially reopened the case and put in question a verdict that had survived an appeal in 2004. Judge Simpson was expected to rule on Thursday whether to uphold Barbaro’s previous ruling or to release Kagan, but has postponed the ruling according to CNN. Simpson was expected to have already made a decision but has postponed the ruling three times since the case’s reopening in December 2013.
Wint, 23, died in a struggle with Kagan outside a movie theater on Linden Boulevard in Brooklyn on November 4, 1998.
Evidence presented at the trial revealed that Kagan had gone to the movies with an unlicensed pistol in his belt while Wint had been drinking heavily during the screening. After the film, the two got into a fight after Wint tried to rob Kagan of his gold chain. The argument escalated when Wint continued to harass Kagan. The dispute resulted in Kagan shooting Wint in the chest and abdomen. Kagan was found guilty in October 1999 of murder and criminal possession of a weapon.