New York City and State have agreed to pay a man about $18 million as compensation for the nearly 25 years he spent in prison for a high-profile subway stabbing conviction that was later overturned.
Johnny Hincapie, 50, was wrongfully accused of murder in connection with the 1990 stabbing death of Utah tourist Brian Wattkins, 22, at the East 53rd Street subway station. Hincapie claims he was forced into a false confession.
Watkins and his parents were returning to Manhattan after the US Open tennis event when they were surrounded by a group of masked guys brandishing weapons.
A state judge found insufficient evidence to keep Hincapie in prison after he had already served 25 years, 3 months, and 8 days after he recanted his confession and was given a sentence of 25 years to life.
A judge overturned Hincapie’s conviction in January 2017.
In a lawsuit filed against the city in April of 2018, Hincapie claimed that the police officers involved in his arrest used “unconstitutional practices to announce ‘case closed’ within twenty-four hours.”
The settlement calls for the city of Hincapie to pay $12.8 million and the state to pay $4.8 million.
“This settlement closes a prolonged civil dispute involving a heinous crime,” a representative for the city legal department stated. After careful consideration, we have concluded that the DA’s recommendations are sound and that this arrangement serves the interests of all parties involved.
While Watkins is still in his thoughts, Hincapie is ready to move on with his life.
I’ll never forget the tragedy that befell his loved ones, he remarked. Thank God my city and state have recognized my innocence at last; now I may move on to the next exciting chapter of my life with my loved ones.
It’s 2023, so Where Is Johnny Hincapie?
According to his attorney, Gabriel Harvis, Hincapie and his wife and two kids have relocated to Florida. Since it took so long for his innocence to be acknowledged, Harvis referred to him as “the last victim in this case.”