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New York (AFP) — A New York man was awarded $10 million after spending 16 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, his lawyer said.

Jabbar Collins, now 42, was convicted and sent to prison for the February 1994 murder of Abraham Pollack, an Orthodox rabbi who had been collecting rent at a Brooklyn building.

Collins, who is African American, was 21 when he was sent to prison in March 1995. He was sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence based mainly on testimony of witnesses who claimed that they had seen him fleeing the scene of the crime.

But he was exonerated in 2010.

Collins “has settled his lawsuit against the City of New York for $10 million,” his attorney Joel Rubin said in a statement.

Previously, Collins had settled an unjust conviction lawsuit with the state of New York for $3 million.

Both the city and the state agreed to a settlement to avoid a trial.

While in prison, Collins studied law, and learned that one of the witnesses retracted his testimony before the trial, but his defense lawyer was never notified.

Police wrote a statement that the witness said he signed under duress to avoid being charged in another case.

Collins also discovered other inconsistencies, so he appealed.

U.S. District Judge Dora Irizarry vacated his conviction due to pervasive misconduct by the office of District Attorney Charles Hynes, which she termed “shameful.”

New York has recently settled several cases of people wrongfully convicted by Hynes in the 1980s and 1990s.

Other examples include five men unjustly accused of murdering a runner in Central Park in 1989, when they were teenagers. The men were awarded $1 million for each year they spent in prison.

Since leaving prison, Collins has worked as a paralegal at his lawyer’s office, “but now has plans to take a lengthy leave of absence and then to enter the ministry,” Rubin’s statement said.

“He plans to continue his work in wrongful conviction cases.”

AFP Photo/Andrew Burton

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