Buffalo Police commissioner shares 1976 letter to help friend who insists he was wrongly convicted

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BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) It is now up to a judge to decide whether to vacate two murder convictions from 1976. But one member of the so-called ‘Buffalo Five’ received an unexpected show of support from the man currently in charge of the Buffalo Police Department.

“I have boxes of letters from many, many years ago,” said Byron Lockwood, commissioner of the Buffalo Police Department, who tells News 4 that, back in May, he stumbled upon an old letter that he kept from 1976. It was from his childhood friend John Walker who wrote to him from the Holding Center weeks after being accused of murdering William Crawford on Fillmore Avenue.

In it, Walker writes; “I will be out soon I hope. Man you know I did not do no (s*#*) like this.”

Walker tells News 4, that age 16 when he wrote it, he still had faith in the legal system. “I did, I can recall back then always thinking that we didn’t do it, so sooner or later they gonna let us go you know. I always thought that we didn’t do it.”

Lockwood said he has known Walker since kindergarten. “When I went to visit him, I’d visit him up in Attica before I became a police officer, I went to visit him and we sat and talked and I looked him, and we looked at each other and he’d still confess he did not do this and commit this crime and I believe him. I believe him. I believe he didn’t commit this crime.”

The police commissioner brought the letter to the attention of the District Attorney’s office in May , but it is not considered new evidence in the motion to vacate the conviction of John Walker and Darryl Boyd. They are now awaiting a judge’s ruling on whether there were crime scene photos that were never shared with their attorneys in their original trials.

“The beat goes on,” said Darryl Boyd, who served 28 years for the same crime. “You know. We must pursue this. It’s only the right thing to do.”

State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns heard closing arguments Tuesday morning on the motion to vacate and he is likely to hand down a ruling this week or next week.

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