Decision delayed in wrongful conviction case

tjndc5-5b3dn4w4bjklloe86jt_thumbnailWestchester County Judge Jeffrey A.Cohen has not yet decided if he will free convicted murderer Selwyn Days or keep Days in prison for decades to come.

Cohen was expected to release his decision tomorrow, six months after presiding over a wrongful conviction hearing to overturn Days’ conviction for the 1996 slayings of an Eastchester millionaire Archie Harris and his live-in home health aide Betty Ramcharan. Days was convicted of both murders and is serving 50 years to life.

Two of Days’ lawyers now say the case has been moved to Jan. 26 when Cohen, who will be a state Supreme Court justice in Orange County by then, could render a written decision or postpone the decision yet again.

Days’ new defense team says the conviction should be tossed out because of new testimony from four alibi witnesses who, together, place Days in North Carolina from Nov. 19 to 21 in 1996 – the time frame in which the slayings occurred. They also claim that new forensic tests performed on the knife that killed Ramcharan found DNA from the real killers – two unknown men. Investigators had never found forensic evidence linking Days to the crime scene.

But prosecutors said that all of the alibi witnesses had close ties to his mother, Stella Days, and should not be believed. They also argued that tiny pieces of random DNA on the murder weapon aren’t enough to dismiss the jury’s verdict – or ignore Days’ confession to the crime.

Days, now 44, was convicted largely due to a videotaped confession in which he told police he beat and stabbed the pair after confronting Harris about sex-abuse allegations lodged by his mother, a former caregiver. Days’ defense said detectives took advantage of his low IQ and coerced a confession from him that was a “disjointed, undeveloped account” of the crime. Manhattan defense lawyer Glenn Garber, who has taken the case as part of his Exoneration Initiative project, has accused Days’ trial lawyer of incompetence.

We’ll have to wait and see what Cohen decides.

Photo: Selwyn Days

Rebecca Baker

Rebecca Baker joined The Journal News in March 2004. She covers Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe, and was previously the state and county courts reporter in Westchester County. In prior jobs, she covered the Town of Greenburgh and Rockland County government and politics. Before coming to The Journal News, she was a municipal reporter for newspapers in New Haven, Conn. and Warren, Ohio.