Investigation finds man was framed for burglary
A Bajan immigrant in the United States who was framed almost 30 years ago for a burglary that never happened has been exonerated, giving him a better shot at fighting deportation.
Michael Waithe, 52, said he felt “like the guillotine has been lifted from over my head” after District Attorney (DA) Kenneth Thompson concluded that he had been wrongfully convicted for the made-up 1986 crime.
“It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day for me,” Waithe declared as he walked out of the Brooklyn Supreme Court yesterday.
The father of four, who emigrated from Barbados as a 22-year-old in 1984, had been convicted solely on the word of Delores Taylor who said she saw him trying to steal a television from her apartment in 1986.
There was no physical evidence in the case against the then 23-year-old defendant who used to work as a security guard in Taylor’s building.
Waithe, who has a green card, was convicted in 1987 and served a year and a half in prison. However, after his release, he was constantly worried that he would be deported for the felony conviction.
It was in 2011, after returning to the United States from Barbados where he attended his oldest daughter’s wedding, that immigration authorities flagged Waithe for deportation.
He wrote to Thompson’s office after hearing that a conviction review unit had cleared 11 men of old murder convictions.
“This hardworking and innocent man came to our country for a better life and ended up being framed and went to prison for a crime that he didn’t commit,” Thompson said.
“It gives me concern how someone can be convicted without corroboration.”
A review of the case discovered inconsistencies in the original account by 69-year-old Taylor who admitted she had fabricated her testimony and that she disliked Waithe and suspected he had stolen her car.
Waithe’s immigration lawyer, Matthew Smalls, said his client has a final hearing on the deportation order in June and would not have been able to become a citizen because of the felony rap – his only run-in with the law. That will, however, be expunged.
“Without this decision Mike would have to say goodbye to his family,” he said.
Waithe has three children in the United States, ages 23, 16 and 11. He is set to marry his girlfriend Karen Garrick next week.