A Harlem man who has spent the past 19 years in prison hopes to prove he was wrongfully convicted when the star witness against him testifies Monday that she was coerced into identifying him as the gunman.
Robert Jones, 45, was convicted for the 1994 murder of street preacher Antoine Stone in Far Rockaway, Queens, but always maintained his innocence. A judge ordered a hearing to reevaluate the evidence.
“He is very hopeful and faithful that these chains are going to be broken and he’ll be free,” said the defendant’s sister Gertrude Jones.
Jones has asserted that he is innocent all along.
A woman who fingered Jones as the shooter at his trial nearly two decades ago is expected to testify Monday she was instructed to pick him in a lineup and, later, to say he did it from the witness stand.
“I told them, ‘I never seen this guy,’ ” the woman said in an affidavit.
The 45-year-old claims that finance has been a problem in mounting his case.
Queens prosecutors stand by the conviction and noted the witness was equivocal on the stand, but the jury still voted to convict.
“We would urge anyone interested in learning the actual facts of the case to attend the hearing,” said District Attorney Richard Brown’s spokeswoman, Helen Peterson. “We are confident that justice has been served in this case.”
Jones lost both of his parents during his time in prison and has a 19-year-old daughter.
In court papers, prosecutors slammed the defense accusations as “preposterous.”
Jones’ lawyer, Thomas Hoffman, cited the fact that after Stone got shot, he said: “I was preaching to a drug dealer on a bike and he shot me.”
Hoffman wondered why the victim failed to identify Jones — who had been his lover.
Jones, whose rap sheet before the conviction included mostly minor drug offenses, is serving a sentence of 25 years to life and will be eligible for parole in 2019.
“I have lost both of my parents while in prison. Nevertheless, my silent prayer is to rebuild my life,” Jones, the father of a 19-year-old daughter, wrote from prison.