NEW YORK — One of two men who were imprisoned for more than 13 years for the fatal shooting of a bouncer outside a nightclub in 1990 was acquitted Thursday after being tried a second time for the killing.
David Lemus, 38, was found not guilty in Manhattan state Supreme Court of second-degree murder and second-degree attempted murder in the Nov. 23, 1990, killing of bouncer Marcus Peterson outside the Palladium nightclub. In August, his story was the subject of an msnbc.com investigation and a “Dateline NBC” documentary.
Peterson was shot after he and another bouncer scuffled with a patron who refused to go through a security check. Prosecutors said the patron returned with at least one other man and opened fire.
Lemus and Olmedo Hidalgo, 41, were convicted of the shooting in 1992. Both went to prison for more than 13 years, but a judge threw out the convictions in 2005 after new evidence surfaced.
Prosecutors, who never presented evidence that the two men even knew each other, dropped the charges against Hidalgo, who was subsequently deported to the Dominican Republic for an unrelated gun charge. But they decided to retry Lemus.
The new evidence included a federal witness's statement in 2000 that the real gunman was Thomas "Spanky" Morales and a 2002 New York Police Department report that named Morales as the shooter.
During the second trial, Morales testified in a sealed courtroom that he and another acquaintance, not Lemus and Hidalgo, did the shooting. Morales has not been prosecuted in the case.
Hidalgo filed a $50 million lawsuit against the city in Manhattan's U.S. District Court in November 2006, accusing the district attorney's office of false arrest, malicious prosecution and false imprisonment.
Manhattan prosecutors had no comment on the jury's Lemus verdict or on Hidalgo's lawsuit.
A Dateline documentary on this case will air Thursday, Dec. 13 at 10 p.m. ET on MSNBC.
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