pictured above from Left: Darryl Boyd, John Walker, John Walker Jr.
John Walker and Darryl Boyd of the “Buffalo Five,” walked out of State Supreme Court on Monday cautiously optimistic that after decades of trying to prove their innocence in a 1976 murder, justice may finally be within reach.
Although their wrongful murder indictment (Erie County $41-413) and conviction was not overturned as they had hoped, Justice Christopher Burns did order a court hearing which is expected to be scheduled in the very near future. “That’s further than we’ve gotten before,” said John of the opportunity to present their case before the courts. “I’m still a little tense because I was hoping it would get resolved today. I’m just going to have to be patient.”
Bishop Darius Pridgen, who was present at Monday’s court session, said he was heartened to hear the judge order a new hearing. “I’m encouraged that this was not dismissed today and to see that they have a top tier, respected attorney (Paul Cambria, who is fighting their case. It was a positive sign. Hopefully by the judge not just dismissing it and walking away there’s still some light. These guys are not getting any younger. I feel they were wrongfully accused. And for the Judge to do what he did today, means a lot.”
Darryl also saw positive indications. “I feel we’re moving forward…” he said outside the court room. I feel like justice is just around the corner. I really do.”
John Walker, Darryl Boyd, Darryn Gibson, and Floyd Martin were indicted during 1976 and 1977 for the robbery and beating death of William Crawford, a White senior citizen who resided on Fillmore Avenue across from the Golden Nuggett Inn and Restaurant. The four young men of The Buffalo 5 have long proclaimed that they were and are innocent of the crime. However, a fifth friend of theirs, Tyrone Woodruff, turned State’s Evidence back in 1976, and was the State Of New York’s leading witness against the remainder of The Buffalo 5. Woodruff was never charged for the crime, although he (falsely) admitted to having participated in and helped to commit the crime. Woodruff has since recanted his admission and allegations on three separate occasions, to no avail.
John Walker, Darryl Boyd, and Tyrone Woodruff are the last three surviving members of The Buffalo 5. Floyd Martin and Darryn Gibson are now deceased.
John and Darryl have maintained their innocence throughout their decades-long ordeal. John spent 22 years in prison and 18 years on lifetime parole. Darryl spent 28 years in prison and remains on lifetime parole. .
They’re counting on new evidence in the case to vindicate them – a photo of the crime scene before it was disturbed that showed only one set of footprints leading to and from the scene. The photo was used by Martin’s attorney to get him acquitted. He was the only one whose family could afford a private lawyer. That lawyer was James McLeod who went on to become a highly respected City Court Judge. The others had public defenders – who either had little or no knowledge of criminal law or just didn’t care.
Former justice McLeod will testify about the photos in the upcoming hearing, where witnesses will be allowed. ..The DA says there is no such photo. The transcripts from the Martin trial are also missing.
“If we can’t come up with the transcripts, there’s an abundance of other evidence the Judge could relay on if he chooses,”said John.
Attorney Cambria, more than once referred to the “ineffective defense” provided to the teenage boys.
He impressed on how critically important it was for attorneys to seek photographs in a murder trial.
“The failure to ask for photographs – any photograph – is unheard of by criminal defense lawyers,” said attorney Cambria. “ One because photos don’t lie, so its vey important in a case. Here they never asked for photographs. As far as I’m concerned that was a failure of counsel and that was a fatal failure and the indictment should be vacated.”
“-I am Not a Murderer-”
The community is still asked to call DA John Flynn’s office and ask him to NOT oppose the motion to vacate Indictment 41-413 – and allow justice to be served.
John Walker and Darryl Boyd are innocent men. They are not murderers.
All they want is to clear their names not only for themselves, but for the sake of their children. For John Walker Jr. who proudly carries his father’s name. Who is by his side every step of the way. John Walker and Darryl Boyd are not murderers. They are victims of a broken system where all too often there is no real justice and more often than not, the victims are,“just-us.”
-Staff Writer,. Sherry Sherrill contributed to this article