NEW YORK (PIX11) — Nelson Cruz has been fighting for his exoneration for 25 years. Cruz was found guilty in a 1998 murder case in East New York, Brooklyn.
The case was investigated by now-disgraced detective Louis Scarcella, who stands by his work. Cruz insists he’s innocent and was forced by Scarcella to sign a confession.
Cruz could have been exonerated in 2019. At a hearing, the defense brought in an NYPD officer who actually witnessed the murder. The officer has always maintained Cruz was not the shooter.
Scarcella denied any wrongdoing at the 2019 hearing, saying he didn’t recall much of the case. The judge shocked the courtroom and ruled against Cruz. His legal team later learned the judge had been experiencing symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Cruz told PIX11 News that he hoped he could get another hearing after the judge’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was discovered. But that hasn’t happened.
Cruz was released on parole after serving 25 years in prison. On Thursday, he walked out from the Queensboro Correctional Facility into the arms of his family, vowing that his legal battle isn’t over.
“I’m definitely still fighting,” Cruz said. “I can’t wait to get out of here so I can start rallying and going hard for my freedom. I’m not going to stop until my conviction will be overturned.”
A spokesperson for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office provided the following statement on Thursday.
“Mr. Cruz has been held accountable for his crime and our office supported his release on parole. We will continue to respond to any additional motions in court.”