Buffalo Man Exonerated on Murder Conviction

BUFFALO, NY-- A Buffalo man who spent four and a half years behind bars for a murder he didn't commit was officially exonerated by a judge in court on Monday.

Jerome Thagard, 21, was 16 years old when he was convicted of the murder of 31-year-old Steven Northrup in 2009.

But two years ago, his case was re-opened when ballistics from another shooting matched the gun used to kill Northrup.

While leaving the courtroom Monday, Thagard's attorney John Molloy said, "he's not angry at all, he's not bitter, he accepts the fact that a terrible mistake was made he has not exhibited any anger or bitterness that one would suspect."

In 2009 the Erie County district attorney's office successfully prosecuted Thagard for Northrup's murder.

But, three witnesses then recanted their stories and Thagard was released in December 2013.

"Information came to the Buffalo [police] homicide and was through their efforts, their strong efforts that we arrived here today," said Molloy.

In December, Sedita told 2 On Your Side: "that information had to do with ballistic matches on the gun used in the Thagard homicide being connected to other shootings."

Molloy says that the gun was used April 25 on Massachusetts Street, four days before the Northrup homicide, and that the gun was also used on May 21, three weeks after Northrup was killed and after Thagard was incarcerated.

Thagard says that he was watching television at home with his mother, when Northrup was killed.

Meantime, Molloy says that police are pursuing a suspect in Northrup's killing. 2 On Your Side contacted the Northrup family, which is enraged about Monday's decision.

The family believes that Thagard was the shooter.

Northrup's mother, Nancy, who declined an on-camera interview, told 2 On Your Side's Jeff Preval by phone that the justice system and Buffalo police have failed their family, and that everyone in her family is devastated by the decision to let Thagard go.

Thagard's record still needs to be expunged from state records. Thagard wants to go on to college. He finished high school at the Erie County Holding Center prior to the trial.


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