innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Friday, February 02, 2007

Innocent man goes free

This article appeared in New York's Post-Standard on January 24, 2007:

'Innocent man walking'; Roy Brown goes free

By John Stith
Staff writer

Roy Arthur Brown said when he walked out of Elmira Correctional Facility Tuesday morning, fellow inmates chanted, "innocent man walking."

Fifteen years ago to the day, Brown was convicted of second-degree murder. A jury had decided he had killed Cayuga County social worker Sabina Kulakowski.

Tuesday afternoon, Judge Mark H. Fandrich tossed out the conviction and set aside Brown's sentence of 25 years to life. He was freed without bail and is due back in court March 5 to determine if he should be retried.

However, DNA evidence points to another man, Barry Bench, as the possible killer. Bench was the brother of Kulakowski's ex-boyfriend, Ronald.

"Mr. Brown, I'm sorry it's taken such a long time to come to this day," Fandrich told Brown as he was released from custody. "I'm happy for you and your family."

Brown, 46, didn't say anything in court. In answer to a reporter's question later, he said simply, "Prison was hell."

He always insisted he was innocent and conducted his 15-year battle seeking freedom from prison

personally uncovering affidavits that convinced him Bench was the guilty one. He sent Bench an accusatory letter on Christmas Eve 2003, days before Bench stepped in front of an Amtrak train in Wayne County and killed himself.

District Attorney James B. Vargason had Bench's body exhumed late last month. He wanted a tissue sample to see if it matched DNA found on a T-shirt Kulakowski was wearing the night she was murdered. The DNA samples matched.

Kulakowski's nude, battered body was found May 23, 1991, outside her burning Blanchard Road home. A red T-shirt was found nearby. She had been stabbed, bitten and strangled.

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