Murder in New Milford: Court vacates Sean Henning and Ricky Birch's convictions | The Tape Room
NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - The Connecticut Supreme Court on Friday ordered new trials for two men convicted more than three decades ago in the stabbing and beating death of a 65-year-old man.
The felony murder convictions of Ralph "Ricky" Birch and Shawn Henning in the Dec. 1, 1985, slaying of Everett Carr were based in part on false testimony about bloodstains on a towel that later were proven not to be blood, the court ruled.
In 1985, Carr, was murdered inside his home in New Milford, Connecticut. He was stabbed 27 times, his throat was slit, and he was badly beaten. The blood was everywhere, soaked into the carpet, on the walls, even on the ceiling.
Police called it a burglary gone bad and zeroed in on Shawn Henning and Ricky Birch, who were eventually convicted of the murder. The testimony of Dr. Henry Lee, a forensic expert, helped put them away.
But for three decades, Henning and Birch have maintained their innocence.
Now the Connecticut Supreme Court is throwing out their convictions.
Last October, our True Crime series The Tape Room -- was there -- as attorney's for the two men argued the original convictions were based in part on false statements about blood on a towel that turned out not to be blood.
It raised serious questions about that testimony from Dr. Lee, who went on to gain international fame as a forensic expert during the O.J. Simpson trial.
Andrew O'Shea, Ricky Birch's defense attorney, said justices determined if the false statements about the towel were revealed all those years ago at the trial, things would have been different.
"The state knew that testimony was false," O'Shea said. "Thankfully, in our country, you're not allowed to convict someone based on knowing false evidence."
It is unclear if Connecticut prosecutors will retry the two men.
Birch remains incarcerated at the Osborn Correctional Institution. He volunteers with the hospice program and also spends time working with dogs that will help soldiers with PTSD.
Late last year, before the new verdict, we spoke with him during a prison Interview. We asked him about this possibility that he could get out and the Supreme Court could find mistakes were made resulting in his incarceration for nearly 30 years. After all these years, he said he'd found a higher power. And to our surprise, he wasn't bitter.
"Since I turned over my will to a higher power, my life has gotten way better," he said. "Even though I'm locked away in prison, I am no longer locked up in my mind, like I used to be."
Henning served nearly 30 years in prison and was released. But he still wants to clear his name.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.