You sit in a Manhattan office and put these questions to Amine Baba-Ali, a courtly middle-aged man with a white-flecked goatee and hair swept back from his forehead. In truth, he looks not so different from the last time I saw him, 23 years ago, when I was a reporter with New York Newsday.
Except that back then he was lost to hope, a long-term tenant in the Eastern Correctional Facility in Napanoch, N.Y. “My vacation home,” he said, with a melancholy smile.
In 1989, he was convicted of the unspeakable: climbing into bed and raping his 4-year-old daughter. The accusation came from his ex-wife, with whom he was then caught up in a bitter divorce battle. He was found guilty of raping his daughter and was sentenced to 81/3 to 25 years.
But he was wrongfully convicted.
In the years to come, multiple courts found that the evidence against him was one legal atrocity piled atop another. The Queens district attorney’s office had hidden exculpatory evidence from the defendant. They denied this at first, only to later acknowledge it in court papers.