WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- They've spent nearly three decades in prison for a particularly brutal murder,but nowseven DC men are getting an unusual chance to argue they're innocent.
Attorneys for the men say there has been an "avalanche" of new information that calls into question the guilty verdicts in the murder of Catherine Fuller.
Four witnesses have reportedly recanted. And several witnesses have pointed to other suspects -- potential suspects prosecutors allegedly withheld from defense attorneys.
The victim's sister celebrated the guilty verdicts in 1984: "As far as I'm concerned, in eight ways, justice was served," she said.
But the defendants are back in DC Superior Court arguing the verdicts were anything but justice. "They're all going to get out," said the brother of one of the convicts." "I'm happy to see my brother, 27 years incarcerated for something he didn't do, said another."
Catherine Fuller was a tiny mother of six, beaten robbed and sodomized with a pole in a garage off an alley near 8th and H Sts, NE on October 1, 1984.
Police focused on a group of young men who hung out in a nearby park and called themselves the "8th 'N H Crew."
But several witnesses say they saw another man named James McMillan in the alley, a man who years later was convicted of a startlingly similar murder.
Another witness pointed to a newly-released convict named James Blue. But Blue murdered that witness five days before the 8th and H Crew went on trial for Fuller's murder. And prosecutors never told defense attorneys about any of those witnesses.
Clifton Yarborough, then 16, confessed to being there in a videotaped statement to police. But he is now recanting, and he was the lead off witness as the defendants try to convince a judge to grant them a new trial or declare them not guilty.
"Did you kill Catherine Fuller?," his lawyer asked him. "No I didn't." "Did you participate in the murder of Catherine Fuller?" "No I didn't" "Why did you make a statement?" "Because I was scared." Yarborough says police beat the confession out of him.
But in the courtroom today, the prosecutors says the crime happened exactly as the defendants originally confessed, and that those confessions fit the evidence and the injuries.
Written and Reported by Bruce Leshan
9News Now & wusa9.com