- < 12.22.07, NY Daily News: Court bounces case of Long Island man jailed 17 years for slaying parents
- 12.22.07, Newsday: About a new trial, Tankleff kin say 'bring it on' >
New York Post
By JOHN MAZOR and STEFANIE COHEN
December 22, 2007 -- In a bombshell decision, an appellate court yesterday overturned the controversial murder convictions of a Long Island man who has spent 17 years in prison for the grisly slayings of his parents.
Martin Tankleff, as he looks now at 36 , was found guilty in 1990 of stabbing and beating to death his adoptive parents in their posh Belle Terre home two years earlier.
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After a sensational trial, he was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison - but his case would became a cause celebre as more and more observers came to believe him innocent.
Yesterday, a state appellate court in Brooklyn found that newly-discovered evidence warranted a new trial for Tankleff in Suffolk County.
"He was obviously very, very happy," said Tankleff's attorney, Bruce Barket, who worked pro bono for years to free his client. When Barket called Tankleff at the upstate Great Meadow prison yesterday morning, Tankleff told him: "Finally, justice is starting to tilt our way."
Barket is hoping to have Tankleff out on bail by New Year's.
"We'll do it as soon as I can get him in front of a judge," he said.
"We want him out as quickly as we can possibly get him," added Tankleff's cousin Ron Falbee. "I want to hug him and feed him.
"This has been a continual burden for 20 years for our family. We knew it was wrong . . . It's been a lot of prayers and heartache."
More than 21 witnesses testified at a 2004 hearing and presented a new version of events that night.
The hearing won Tankleff a legion of supporters, including James Gandolfini, the star of "The Sopranos," who was present when attorneys argued the case in front of the appellate court in October.
Suffolk County DA Thomas Spota said: "We respectfully disagree with the court's decision. In the interim, we will return the defendant to Suffolk County Court for consideration of bail."