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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Lynn DeJac Sues For $30 Million Compensation For Wrongful Murder Conviction

by Justice Denied - the magazine for the wrongly convicted
Lynn DeJac was convicted in 1994 of
second-degree murder in the 1993 death of her 13-year-old daughter
Crystallynn in Buffalo, New York. DeJac was sentenced to 25 years to
life in prison.
The prosecution’s theory was that after a
night of drinking DeJac strangled her daughter while she was in a
drunken rage. DeJac’s prosecution was based on the testimony of three
men. Wayne Hudson had two felony convictions and was facing a mandatory
25 years to life sentence as a three time loser. A felony indictment
against Hudson was dismissed in exchange for his testimony that DeJac
confessed to him. Keith Cramer, an ex-boyfriend of DeJac, and Dennis P.
Donohue, another ex-boyfriend, testified that when drinking DeJac had
an unpredictable temper. In exchange for his grand jury testimony
Donohue was given transactional immunity from prosecution and a reduced
sentence for an unrelated crime.
Buffalo cold case
detective Dennis Delano wasn’t convinced of DeJac’s guilt and
diligently worked on her case. By September 2007 Cramer had recanted
his testimony and DNA testing unavailable at the time of DeJac’s trial
revealed that Donohue’s DNA was found on the bedding Crystallynn’s body
was laying on, it was mixed in with her blood on the bedroom wall, and
it was found inside her. The DNA evidence did not place DeJac in
Crystallynn’s bedroom at the time of her death. Based on the new
evidence DeJac filed a motion to vacate her conviction.
motion was granted on November 28, 2007, over the opposition of Erie
County District Attorney Frank Clark. After 13 years and 7 months of
imprisonment, the 43-year-old DeJac was released later that day on bail
pending her retrial.
DA Clark announced he would retry
DeJac, but with the Buffalo media and a firestorm of callers to talk
radio programs openly questioning why a new trial was being pursued,
Clark hired nationally known forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden to
review the medical evidence. Baden determined that Crystallynn died
from “acute cocaine intoxication” and not strangulation. The Erie
County Medical Examiner then reviewed the evidence and determined
Crystallynn died from a cocaine overdose and a head injury of unknown
origin. The ME issued a new death certificate reflecting Crystallynn’s
revised causes of death.
DA Clark held a press conference
on February 13, 2008, and announced the findings of Baden and the
medical examiner. He said that the bruises on Crystallynn’s head could
have resulted from a fall after an overdose, which would explain the
overturned table in her bedroom. He said DeJac wouldn't be retried, and
the charges were dismissed against her two weeks later.
exoneration was a mixed bag. She vigorously denied that her daughter
used cocaine, and even though the DNA evidence suggests Donohue was
involved in her death, he can’t be prosecuted because of the immunity
he was granted for his grand jury testimony, and even if he could be
prosecuted, the revised cause of death doesn't identify Crystallynn’s
death as a homicide. Donohue was convicted in 2008 of strangling a
woman to death in South Buffalo in 1993, and he is serving a sentence
of 25 years to life. The judge told Donohue at his sentencing that he
is a, “cold-blooded murderer. You brutally murdered a woman you knew.
You’re smart, but DNA technology caught up with you.” Donohue's DNA
matched skin cells found under the dead woman’s fingernails.
In 2008 DeJac filed a claim with the New York’s State Court of Claims for almost $14.5 million. Her claim is pending.
On November 24, 2010, DeJac (now Lynn DeJac Peters) filed a $30 million dollar federal civil rights lawsuit
that names Erie County, former District Attorney Frank J. Clark and
former Deputy District Attorney Joseph J. Marusak, the City of Buffalo
and the Buffalo Police Department as defendants. The lawsuit alleges
that the Erie County DA and the Buffalo police knew at the time of
DeJac’s prosecution that she did not murder her daughter, and that all
the evidence pointed to Donohue, which was why he was granted immunity
for his grand jury testimony.
In June 2010 Anthony J. Capozzi settled
his claim against New York State for $4.25 million. Capozzi was wrongly
imprisoned for almost 22 years after being erroneously identied as
Buffalo’s notorious Bike Path Rapist. Buffalo PD Detective Dennis
Delano also assisted in overturning Capozzi’s convictions.
Justice Denied published a detailed article about Lynn DeJac's case in Issue 40.
DeJac Peters at press conference announcing $30 million federal civil
rights lawsuit against Erie County and the Buffalo Police Department.
Lynn DeJac's daughter Crystallynn Girard

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