He credited the affidavits of Lopez's two alibi witnesses Lopez's partner Juliana Guido, and Juliana's sister, Lydia Rivera, and said Lopez himself "openly and persuasively" told his story and asserted his innocence.
Garaufis faulted Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Tess Allen for making a "false" representation to Demarest that she had never discussed with Chapman a "contract" in which she would benefit from testifying at trial to the same information she told police about the murder when she was arrested for prostitution.
He faulted Lupo for failing to contact alibi witnesses (although Lupo at the time claimed he did indeed contact one of them), saying this amounted to ineffective assistance of counsel. Lupo's failure to call either witness, he said, "was not based on reasonable trial strategy."
And Demarest, he said, rejected the ineffective assistance claim "without evaluating this central factual issue of whether Lupo failed to interview both of the alibi witnesses," and failed to hold an evidentiary hearing to gauge credibility of the alibi witnesses.
"Instead, Justice Demarest focused solely on the fact that the affidavits did not establish Lopez's innocence with absolute certainty," he said. "That was unreasonable."
Demarest declined comment.
Assistant District Attorneys Howard Goodman and Phyllis Mintz represented the state in federal court.
Richard Ware Levitt and Yvonne Shivers of Levitt & Kaizer represented Lopez.
A spokeswoman for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said the office is reviewing the decision.
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