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New York City judge vacates conviction in 1975 child death

April 12, 2013 3:15:30 PM PDT
A man jailed nearly four decades in the death of an 8-year-old New York City girl is a free man after a judge found his trial attorney provided a poor defense.

David Bryant was released Thursday afternoon, not long after a Bronx judge determined his defense in the 1975 killing had been flawed.

To David Bryant the simple choice of a sandwich is overwhelming.

Everything is new to Bryant, he was freed Thursday in the Bronx after a judge vacated the conviction of the 56 year old who spent 38 years in prison for the rape and murder of an 8 year old in an apartment building.

"You don't know what to do, it's so overwhelming. I went into a store and it was like you could have anything you want!" Bryant said.

Like picking out a cell phone. Bryant was 18 when he was sent away in 1975.

"They didn't have cell phones, they didn't have cell phones. Its way too overwhelming," Bryant said.

Bryant's claim of innocence was picked up five years ago by the non-profit Centurion Ministries of Princeton.

He met the staffers for the first time Friday after that judge in the Bronx determined the original defense had been inadequate.

"David's biogroup substance is not in the semen sample, meaning that David is excluded as being the semen donor, meaning David is innocent of this case. It was never brought up at trial," said Paul Casteleiro, Bryant's attorney.

His three priorities when he got out were, "Dunkin Donuts, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pepsi soda. Having those was like being a little kid again, you know, because those were the last things that I remembered when I was out. I got to try to learn how to live again, it's like the kid, I got to learn how to walk," Bryant said.

The judge found the failure of Bryant's attorney to consult with a blood and semen testing expert deprived him of a fair trial.

The then-18-year-old Bryant was arrested less than a day after the discovery of Karen Smith's body in the stairwell of an apartment house. She'd been raped, beaten and stabbed.

A spokesman for the Bronx district attorney's office says no decision has been made on appealing the judge's ruling.

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