Something disturbingly unsavory is going on in the state Attorney General’s office. Under the leadership of Eric Schneiderman, New York State is playing an unfair game with a woman who served 14 years in prison for a crime she did not commit. Lynn Dejac Peters was no mother of the year, but her wrongful conviction for the murder of her daughter cries out for the state to make this right, not to further obstruct the path to justice. Dejac Peters was freed from prison four years ago when a new autopsy concluded that Crystallyn Girard died not of strangulation, but of a cocaine overdose. Only months after another Erie County resident, Anthony Capozzi, was freed from prison after a wrongful conviction, DeJac was released from prison pending a new trial that was rendered moot by the new autopsy results. Now she wants money, and she should get it. What other way do New Yorkers have to make up for 14 years of imprisonment and the emotional torture of having been wrongfully convicted of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable? Dejac Peters may be aiming high, it is true. She is seeking $6.5 million in compensation, compared to the $4.25 million Capozzi received for his 21 years behind bars, convicted of rapes he did not commit. Still, it is fair to presume that, like all negotiations, she is asking for more than she actually expects to get. Part of her problem is that, frankly, she was a terrible mother to her child, preferring to party hard rather than to care for the 13-year-old girl, who perhaps died at the hands of a man DeJac Peters said she dated twice. Still, the question of Dejac Peters’ record as a mother is only tangentially relevant, if that. A better mother might have been home, keeping watch on her child, and Crystallyn might now be a 31-year-old woman. But the question isn’t whether Dejac Peters should have been home, it is whether she should have been convicted of murder, and the answer to that is clear. The state’s foot-dragging on this is unconscionable. The only decent response to a wrongful conviction such as this is to make it as right as possible, as quickly as diligence allows. It has now been more than four years since DeJac Peters was released from prison, and the delay is telling an unflattering story about Schneiderman and the state of New York and, by extension, those who live here and who believe that people should not go to prison for crimes they did not commit and that, when that happens, it is up to the state to do right. The evidence to date screams that that is not happening. Schneiderman needs to end the miscarriage of justice that began with Crystallyn’s death and that continues to this day, 18 years later.
Unseemly delay net title
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