STAMFORD, Conn. – Joanne Linarte was in search of hope when she showed up at Stamford’s Temple Beth El to hear Jeffrey Deskovic speak Friday night. Like the speaker, her son, she said, has been falsely convicted of a crime.
“He went through the same things my son is going through now,” Linarte, a Norwalk resident, said of Deskovic, who spent 16 years in jail for a murder he did not commit.
Linarte’s son, Frank, was convicted of molesting two girls who attended a day care program she ran, she said. Similar to Deskovic's case, there was evidence proving Frank’s innocence that was not allowed to be entered during the trial, she said. But through questionable interrogation tactics, police got a confession, which led to a guilty result, she said.
Linarte shared her son’s story with Deskovic, who said he will try to help. Frank Linarte is currently serving two 20-year prison terms, she said.
Deskovic was arrested in 1989 in Peekskill, N.Y., on a charge of murdering classmate Angela Correa. Even though the jury knew that the DNA evidence on the victim’s body was not his, he was found guilty. It was not until a new district attorney allowed new DNA evidence, which matched another man in jail for murder who admitted to killing Correa, that Deskovic was released.
In addition to sharing his story and experience with exonerations, Deskovic also advocates for the abolition of capital punishment. He believes he would have been sentenced to the death penalty if he had not been a minor. The Friday night talk was sponsored by Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty.
Deskovic ended his talk by asking everyone in attendance to contact an elected official and share his ideas for improving the judicial system. He believes most politicians move to action when urged to by voters.
“Would it be too much to ask that we each take five minutes out of our life just one time,” he asked of the audience.