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Judge throws out convictions in ER assault case

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Judge throws out ER assault convictions
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A Tompkins County judge has thrown out the convictions of three men for their role in an emergency room assault last year after defense attorneys accused the district attorney's office of misconduct. Our Tamara Lindstrom joined us with more on the decision.

TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. -- A Tompkins County judge has overturned a guilty verdict for three men convicted in an emergency room brawl.

Defense attorneys say the prosecution intentionally mislead jurors during the two week trial last November. Now, the Tompkins County District Attorney's office has admitted to errors during the trial and the guilty verdicts for all three men have been overturned.

Johnny F. Lucena, his son, Johnny J. Lucena, along with Timothy Daniels, were accused of a gang assault after prosecutors say they attacked a man inside the Cayuga Medical Center emergency room in Ithaca in May 2010. The victim was seeking treatment for a stab wound he suffered in an earlier fight with one of the defendants.

The three were convicted of burglary and conspiracy, but their attorneys filed a motion to have the verdict overturned, saying the prosecution lied to jurors during the trial.

The issue in question was a fourth suspect, known as "Pip." He was later identified as James Marshall.

During the trial, the prosecution claimed they didn't know Marshall's whereabouts and the defense says Assistant District Attorney David Wade told the jury that the three defendants were covering for Marshall. Meanwhile, Wade had been trying Marshall in Ithaca City Court on another case.

The defense attorneys also pointed out that contrary to Wade's statements, videotaped interviews showed the defendants cooperating with police in their efforts to locate Marshall.

In a letter to Judge John C. Rowley, District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson admitted to cumulative errors during the trial. The judge then granted the defense's motion to have the verdicts thrown out.

The defense attorneys say they are not able to speak on camera while the process is ongoing, but said they don't yet know whether or not their clients will face a new trial.

The district attorney's office declined to comment.

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