Two retired judges testify to differing memories of 1976 murder case

Local News

BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) — Two retired judges were called to the witness stand Thursday as part of a motion to vacate a 1976 murder conviction.

“We want the truth to come out exactly the way it unfolded,” said Darryl Boyd who, along with John Walker Jr. have filed a motion to vacate their murder convictions from nearly 45 years ago. They were only 16 years old when they were charged in the murder of William Crawford on Fillmore Avenue, and they’ve already served their sentences.

On Thursday, before State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns, their attorney, Paul Cambria argued that in their original murder trials, they didn’t have access to a piece of evidence that helped one of their co-defendants, Floyd Martin, to get acquitted.

Retired Buffalo City Court Judge James McLeod was a defense attorney in Martin’s original trial and testified on Thursday about a crime scene photo that he recalled showing only one set of large footprints in the snow coming from the back of the victim’s house.

”It was what it was,” said Judge McLeod of his recent testimony. “We’ll see how helpful it is in the case.” The photo in question cannot be found now but, if it exists, it could be critical in casting suspicion toward a neighbor of the victim and not the four 16 year olds who were charged.

”Whoever’s footprint that was, it was a size 12. To this day, neither one of us five wear a size 12 footprint, to this day,” said Walker, who served his entire 21 year sentence on the murder conviction.

But retired State Supreme Court Justice Timothy Drury was also called to the witness stand today. He was the assistant district attorney in the 1970’s and recalls no such photo of large footprints. Drury does still believe Walker and Boyd committed the crime and he told News Four that although people believe the men were wrongly convicted, Drury calls it an ‘urban myth’ that the evidence doesn’t support.

”For Tim Drury to come in himself, that spoke a lot too for even him to come in,” noted Walker. “Even though he’s coming in with things that we don’t agree with, but for him to have to come in here, it’s kind of big, so you know we are getting our time in court, our day in court.”

Judge Christopher Burns scheduled furthr oral arguments in the case for July 7.

”My bottom line is that we are actually innocent,” said Boyd. “We did not do it and that motivated me for all these years and to keep persevering, we did not do it.”

George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.

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