MANHATTAN (PIX11) — After 33 years, a man who was charged in the “Central Park Jogger” has been exonerated, officials said.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg moved to dismiss the indictment and vacate the guilty plea of Steven Lopez during court proceedings Monday afternoon, according to the district attorney’s office.
Lopez, 48, was 15 when he and a group of teens were arrested for allegedly raping a white woman in Central Park in 1989. He was indicted for rape and attempted murder of a female jogger and robbery of a male jogger, authorities said.
Lopez agreed to a plea to the robbery charge to avoid a trial in the rape case, prosecutors said. Under the plea, Lopez went to prison.
“The people concluded that the hair sample comparisons used at the time of the incident were unreliable,” Bragg told the court. “Therefore, there remains no physical evidence connecting Mr. Lopez to the charged conduct.”
Bragg also said the statements linking Lopez to the crime have since been recanted.
“A conviction based on an unconstitutional plea cannot stand,” he told the court.
Corey Wise, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, and Raymond Santana were convicted of raping and severely beating Trisha Meili in Central Park. The five teens, then known as the Central Park Five, were exonerated in 2002.
There were originally eight people arrested in the high-profile case and three took plea deals, including Lopez.