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Three decade-old murder convicition overturned for Neo-Nazi skinghead in Florida

October 23, 2017  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Three decade-old murder convicition overturned for Neo-Nazi skinghead in Florida

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On Friday, a Florida judge finally vindicated a neo-Nazi skinhead who has maintained his innocence in the 1987 stabbing death of a 41-year-old black man in Tampa.

A 17-page order written by Hillsborough Circuit Judge Lisa Campbell indicated that the new evidence and testimony “would probably produce an acquittal at retrial” for Dean McKee, who was convicted of stabbing Isaiah Walker on Dec. 20, 1987, after his older brother, Scott, fingered him as the killer, The New York Post reported.

“It is clear to any objective observer that Dean McKee was likely framed by his older brother, who took a sweetheart deal to provide false testimony implicating Dean in this murder,” attorney Seth Miller said in a statement. “After hearing from two experts, key witnesses to whom Scott McKee provided self-incriminating evidence, and reviewing the whole record, we are pleased that the judge agreed.”

The now 46-year-old McKee will be released from custody at the Sumter Correctional Institution in Bushnell if prosecutors decline to refile charges, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office said in a statement to the newspaper Saturday, that it would “thoroughly evaluate” the case before making a decision.

New DNA testing on biological material from Walker’s fingernails excluded Dean McKee as a contributor of the DNA, Miller said. Two of Scott McKee’s ex-girlfriends also testified that Scott — and not Dean — had actually stabbed Walker, a homeless man, on the stairs of the Tampa Museum of Art, he said.

A judge on Friday overturned the murder conviction of Dean McKee now that new evidence has raised doubt about McKee’s guilt in a Tampa slaying that occurred nearly three decades ago when he was 16.

Scott and Dean McKee, then 18 and 16, respectively, were arrested in March 1988 after their mother, Sarah, told police she suspected her sons’ involvement in Walker’s death — because Dean drunkenly told his father about “slashing” a man in Tampa. Scott McKee ultimately blamed his brother for the crime after giving detectives several versions of events, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Scott McKee later pleaded no contest to attempted murder and testified against his brother before receiving a five-year sentence, of which he served less than a year in prison, Miller said. Dean McKee, however, received a life sentence after a jury found him guilty.

Dean McKee later filed a request in 2007 for DNA testing in the case and learned in 2011 that DNA found under Walker’s fingernails and on a bloody fishing sinker found at the scene did not match his own.

In 2014, when called to testify at a post-conviction evidentiary hearing, Scott McKee refused to testify, invoking the Fifth Amendment, Miller said. But Michelle Cunningham, a girlfriend of his in 1988, said Scott McKee told her Dean had pulled him off Walker, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Cunningham also claimed Scott McKee said he and his father arranged for Dean McKee to take the fall for the killing, surmising that he wouldn’t face as much time in prison since he was a juvenile.

The new allegations are tantamount to a “conspiracy,” according to the original prosecutor in the case.

“My only comment now is here we are 30 years later and the only conspiracy in this case is a conspiracy to try to get Dean out of prison,” Michael Benito, now a private defense attorney, told the Tampa Bay Times. “Why didn’t these people come forward five years after it happened? Or 10 years after it happened?”

Dean McKee, meanwhile, said “I knew this day would come” when informed of the judge’s order, Miller said. Throughout his 29 years of incarceration, he’s been a model prisoner who completed his GED and kept a diverse group of friends behind bars despite being convicted for a racially motivated crime. If freed, the man who no longer talks to his brother hopes to work as an artist, Miller said.

“There’s a clear indication from the evidence that [Dean] was sort of set up or framed for this crime,” Miller told the Tampa Bay Times. “I think this state has to confront that.”

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