A Far Rockaway man wrongfully convicted of an armed robbery in 1995, is finally free.

On Friday, October 15, Queens County District Attorney Melinda Katz filed a joint motion with the defense to vacate defendant Chad Breland’s conviction and 15-year sentence for a November 27, 1995, armed robbery in Far Rockaway. The Hon. Michelle Johnson granted the joint motion and dismissed the indictment.

The motion cited newly discovered evidence uncovered by the Queens County District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) that both implicates another man in the crime and undermines the identifications relied on at trial to convict Breland. The CIU’s investigation stemmed from the discovery of an April 2000 fingerprint report connecting another man to the crime scene. Other evidence further implicated this other man in the crime. Although the April 2000 fingerprint report was forwarded to the 101st Precinct and other NYPD officials at the time, the Queens County District Attorney’s Office was never notified of the fingerprint identification.

DA Katz said, “The discovery of new forensic evidence has raised serious questions about the conviction of Mr. Breland more than two decades ago. The fingerprint report at issue did not exist at the time of Mr. Breland’s trial and was never forwarded to the District Attorney’s office. In light of the new evidence, justice requires vacating Breland’s conviction.”

Breland was serving a 30-year sentence. At a consolidated trial in September 1997, Breland was also convicted of a second robbery under a separate indictment number. He was sentenced to a consecutive 15-year term for the second robbery under that indictment which is not the subject of the joint motion. Because Breland has completed his 15-year term on the remaining indictment, he was released from prison on Friday.


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