Exonerated in 2013 Murder, He's Charged in New Case

Shamel Capers, 26, faces attempted murder charge following 2023 shootout in NYC
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 23, 2024 2:34 PM CDT
Exonerated in 2013 Murder, He's Charged in New Case
A closeup of a handgun.   (Getty Images/Enterline Design Services LLC)

A man who was exonerated after spending eight years in prison for a murder he said he did not commit has been charged again—in a different fatal shooting. As the AP reports, Shamel Capers, 26, was indicted Tuesday on charges including attempted murder in connection with a July 23, 2023, shootout between two groups of young men in Queens that resulted in the death of Joshua Taylor, 19. Dante Hunter, 25, who police say was the first to draw his gun, was charged with murder in Taylor's death, and a third man, Damone Miller, 21, was charged with attempted murder. All three men were jailed without bail pending their next court appearances.

Capers' arrest came a year and a half after his conviction was vacated for the murder of 14-year-old D'aja Robinson. D'aja was riding on a bus when she was caught in the crossfire in a gang dispute in May 2013, authorities said. Capers was convicted largely on the testimony of a gang member who said he saw Capers shoot at the bus. Capers, who was 15 when D'aja was shot, always maintained his innocence but was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. His efforts to walk free were boosted when the witness who had named him as the gunman recanted.

Capers' conviction in the 2013 shooting was thrown out in November 2022 after the Queens district attorney's office's conviction integrity unit spent two years reinvestigating the case. At the time, District Attorney Melinda Katz said "it is incumbent upon us as prosecutors to follow the facts to wherever they lead." After this week's indictment, Katz said "an exhaustive investigation and newly discovered evidence led us to conclude that Shamel Capers had been wrongfully convicted" in D'aja's murder. "The court agreed and the conviction was vacated," Katz added. Capers has pleaded not guilty to the current charges. (More attempted murder stories.)

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