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Three Men Convicted of Murder, Now Free, Vow to Prove Their Innocence

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They're convicted murderers who say they were the victims of a police officer who was more interested in making a name for himself than pursuing justice, and after decades in prison, they say they're frustrated with the pace of the investigations that could clear them. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

Sundhe Moses, Derrick Hamilton and Kevin Smith have spent a combined 66 years behind bars for murders it now appears they did not commit. They're out on parole, vowing to prove they're innocent.

"I'm trying to fight so that I can ultimately be exonerated and taken off parole and receive justice, not only for me and my family, but also for the victim's family," Moses said.

In separate cases, all three were put away by lead detective Louis Scarcella, whose casework is now under intense scrutiny for possibly coercing confessions or getting witnesses to lie on the stand. All three said that's what happened to them.

"I sat in jail for 21 years because Scarcella felt that he was the judge and the jury," Hamilton said. "At my trial, he came, and he was able to just lie."

Moses spent more than 18 years in prison for a shooting that killed a child in 1995.

"They was convinced that I was the guy who done this crime," he said. "Me telling them that I was innocent and actually telling them my whereabouts fell on deaf ears."

Like Moses, Kevin Smith said he told the parole board he committed murder only to win his release.

"I consulted with some lawyers, and they told me to accept responsibility, and when I get out, I can continue to pursue my innocence," Smith said.

Derrick Hamilton wears a shirt with the names of other prisoners he said were wrongly convicted. He's calling on new Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson to fast track these cases, particularly the ones worked on by Scarcella.

Thompson's office said it's reviewing the convictions under former DA Charles Hynes, adding, "...while we understand the need to work quickly, we are not willing to sacrifice speed or thoroughness in pursuit of justice."

The group is also demanding changes in the way the New York City Police Department conducts lineups and records confessions.

"I'm asking that confessions be videotaped, from the time that a person is accused throughout, is videotaped, so there's no question as to whether or not this person was coerced or not," Hamilton said.

They said because once there's a confession, there's almost always a conviction, even a wrongful one.

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