Man wrongfully convicted of murder gets $3.6 million from state

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Anthony Yarbough was wrongfully convicted in 1992 of murder — and now the state of New York is making amends.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office has focused on the rights of the falsely convicted, with 10 men cleared just this year of crimes they didn’t commit. Yarbough was the first to be cleared, and now he is the first to receive compensation. The $3.6 million payment comes as DA Kenneth Thompson is strengthening the Conviction Review Unit as part of his reforms.

The five month turnaround is the fastest payment in recent memory, and the District Attorney’s office hopes to continue the trend. “The office is working diligently to ensure that those who spent time behind bars get the justice they deserve as speedily as possible,” they said.

Yarbough was 18 when he and his friend Sharif Wilson found Yarbough’s mother, sister and his sister’s friend dead in a bloody drug den. They called 911 to report the crime, but police believed Yarbough and Wilson had committed the murders. Police wormed confessions out of the boys, which were used in their trials as the only evidence.

In 2013, new DNA evidence under Yarbough’s mother’s fingernails linked to DNA evidence under the fingernails of a murdered prostitute. This evidence was enough to clear Yarbough.

Yarbough’s lawyer said that the money from the compensation will help Yarbough take his case to trial but that, in the meantime, he has a union job at a hotel and will continue to work there despite the newly acquired money. “He plans to keep doing that,” the lawyer said. “It’s gratifying.”