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Man Convicted in Parents' Death Set Free

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2007/12/28 19:43

Martin Tankleff walked out of court a free man for the first time in the 17 years since he was convicted of murdering his parents. But his next step was less clear.

Prosecutors have not said whether they will retry Tankleff, who was released on $1 million bail Thursday, days after an appeals court overturned his 1990 conviction and ordered a new trial because of new evidence. Relatives paid the bail.

"My arrest and conviction was a nightmare, and this is a dream come true," the 36-year-old Tankleff told reporters after a hearing in Riverhead, 75 miles east of Manhattan.

Tankleff's attorney, Bruce Barket, said he was awaiting Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota's decision on whether to retry the case.

In throwing out Tankleff's 1990 conviction last week, an appeals court said new evidence suggested someone else might have killed Seymour and Arlene Tankleff in their Long Island home.

Tankleff had been sentenced to 50 years to life in prison after being convicted in one of the nation's first televised trials. The case raised questions about police interrogation tactics and drew the support of the Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people.

Innocence Project executive director Barry Scheck said the district attorney should ask for an independent special prosecutor or state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to evaluate whether the case should be reprosecuted.


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