Prosecutor who freed Central Park 5 dies at age 99

July 22, 2019 by Jerry McCormick

One of the most prominent legal figures in the history of New York died this week.

Former Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau passed away on Sunday, just 10 days short of his 100th birthday, Fox News reported.

Law and Order Inspiration

If you are a fan of the TV show Law and Order, the “Adam Schiff” character played by Steven Hill was meant to be the TV persona of the legendary prosecutor.

Like Schiff, the real-life Morgenthau often struggled with cases where he believed wrongs had resulted in the imprisonment of innocent individuals.

The most prominent case in this setting would be the Central Park 5. The case recently made its way back into the headlines over an ad taken out by Donald Trump during the case proceedings.

While not mentioning the case or the alleged culprits, Trump stated the streets of New York were being made unsafe by violent crime and that he wanted to see the death penalty brought back to New York.

After having pleaded guilty to the rape of a young lady, the culprits in the case would later be set free when DNA evidence from the scene was tested and it did not match any of the five men.

In 2002, Morgenthau asked that the men have their conviction set aside and they were eventually released, much to the chagrin of many New Yorkers.

Famous Prosecutor

That was hardly the only high-profile case Morgenthau would see come across his desk.

During his years in office, he would prosecute some of the most notorious New York mobsters. He also worked on cases with high-profile stars, such as Sean “Diddy” Combs.

Mark David Chapman, the man who killed John Lennon, was also prosecuted by Morgenthau. During his time in office, Morgenthau was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Award in Law, among others.

He is survived by seven children as well as his second wife, Lucinda Franks, whom he married after losing his first wife to cancer in 1972.

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