HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut's Supreme Court upheld a two-decade old murder conviction Friday that was based on disputed eyewitness testimony.
Tyreese Bowens is serving a 50-year sentence for the 1996 shooting in New Haven of Kevin Hood, a former high school basketball star.
Hood was shot by a man wearing a hooded sweat shirt while sitting in a car with a woman in front of a well-lit convenience store on Aug. 18, 1996. The woman later identified Bowens from a photo array.
Defense attorneys had argued that there was no physical evidence linking Bowens to the shooting and he had no motive to commit the crime. They argued the witness was under stress during the incident and may have mistaken Bowens for one of his cousins.
They also argued on appeal that the identification was "cross-racial," presenting evidence of research that showed witnesses make more mistakes when identifying somebody of another race.
But the high court, in a ruling released Friday, ruled that Bowens' lawyers had failed to meet the burden on appeal of proving that no reasonable fact finder would have found him guilty.
"(The witness) testimony was not the only evidence linking the petitioner to the murder and was largely corroborated by another neutral, credible witness ... whose testimony, if credited, would have severely undermined the petitioner's alibi defense by placing him near the crime scene shortly after the shooting," Justice Maria Araujo Kahn wrote on behalf of the high court.
Attorney Katharine Goodbody with the Connecticut Innocence Project, who represented Bowens, said she had not digested the entire ruling and could not comment on it.
"I firmly believe in Mr. Bowens' innocence, but I really don't have anything further to say about the opinion," she said.
The 40-year-old Bowens, who was convicted in 1998, has a maximum release date of August 22, 2046, according to the Department of Correction.