'Hurricane' Carter's dying wish granted as David McCallum freed

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter's dying wish is granted by the Brooklyn district attorney, who has thrown out the conviction that kept David McCallum behind bars for 29 years.

Advocate for wrongfully convicted fought to overturn 1985 ruling

David McCallum, left, stands with his immediate family outside Supreme Court on Wednesday Oct. 15, 2014 in New York. A judge exonerated McCallum, and Willie Stuckey, who died in prison, of murder after nearly 30 years. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter's dying wish has been granted by the Brooklyn district attorney, who on Wednesday threw out the conviction that kept David McCallum behind bars for 29 years. 

McCallum sobbed as D.A. Kenneth Thompson concluded he and co-defendant Willie Stuckey had confessed falsely as teenagers to kidnapping and killing a stranger and taking a joyride in his car.

His cause was championed by Carter who, shortly before his death in Toronto earlier this year, again called for McCallum's release. The former boxer worked for decades to free the wrongfully imprisoned, after spending almost 20 years in prison for a triple murder conviction that was later overturned. 

Carter worked on McCallum's bid for exoneration for a decade after getting a letter from him.

Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter, seen here in a 1993 file photo, died in April. (Barry Thumma/Associated Press)
"My single regret in life is that David McCallum … is still in prison," Carter wrote in an op-ed in the New York Daily News in February. 

McCallum and Stuckey quickly recanted their confessions in the October 1985 killing of Nathan Blenner, but they were found guilty and lost appeals. Thompson's predecessor reviewed the convictions and decided to stand by them last year, but Thompson said the convictions hinged on untrue confessions, made by 16-year-olds, rife with inaccuracies and peppered with details seemingly supplied by police.

Stuckey wasn't in court to be freed. He died in prison in 2001.

"After 29 years, it's a bittersweet moment because I'm walking out alone," McCallum, 45, said as he left court to hugs from relatives and applause from supporters.

But, he said, "freedom feels great."

With Files from Associated Press