EXTRA!: This Is The Kind Of Journalism That Will Die With Newspapers, And Then We’re All F*cked


DAILY NEWS: IN THE ANNALS of Philadelphia crime, the name Nafis Pinkney rings no bells amid the high-profile murderers, mobsters, corrupt cops and politicians. But in 2009, with a high-school diploma, a steady job as a baggage handler at Philadelphia International Airport and no criminal convictions, Pinkney, then 20, found himself beneath the bright light of a criminal interrogation. In a 24-hour span, he went from neighborhood witness to prime suspect, accused of murdering his friend since day-care days, Jonathan Pitts, 21, and Pitts’ girlfriend, Nakeisha Finks, 20. Steadfastly maintaining his innocence, Pinkney spent the next four years in city jails awaiting trial, and for 1 1/2 of those years, it was listed as a death-penalty case. Finally, last month, in just three hours of deliberation, a Philadelphia jury determined that he was the wrong man, found him not guilty of all charges and set him free. By their Oct. 11 decision, jurors effectively concluded that Nafis Pinkney had something in common with Amin Speakes and Unique Drayton, two other murder defendants who went free: They all had been charged with murder based on the work of the same two Philadelphia homicide detectives, Ohmarr Jenkins and James Pitts. […]

Pinkney is the third defendant in three years to be cleared after being charged with murder based on the work of the same two detectives:

* Last year, after spending more than two years in jail awaiting trial for a murder in North Philadelphia, Amin Speakes, 25, was acquitted by a jury that saw surveillance video proving he was elsewhere at the time of the crime. As the Daily News reported in a cover story Feb. 8, 2012, two time-stamped videos placed Speakes miles away from the Oct. 7, 2009, shooting of Timothy “Banger” Ross for which he was charged with first-degree murder. The D.A.’s office had viewed the video and decided to put Speakes on trial anyway. “Had the detectives and the police continued to do some investigating in the neighborhood for the rest of the day and night, they may have caught the killers,” Vernell Rainey, Speakes’ grandmother, said after the jury found him not guilty. “But they dropped the ball in my living-room court and left it there.”

* In January 2011, murder and weapons charges were formally dropped against Unique Drayton, 27, who was charged with fatally stabbing her roommate on Jefferson Street near 52nd in Overbrook in August 2009. The case fell apart when Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, ruling that Drayton had been held without probable cause, suppressed the confession statement she gave Detective Pitts after being in custody for 41 hours. “The statement that she made was not voluntarily made, but was the product of psychological coercion,” Sarmina said in her November 2010 ruling, according to a court transcript. The judge said she found many things that Pitts said during the suppression hearing “incredible,” while she found most of what Drayton said to be “credible.” “I think Detective Pitts is far too aggressive in his interrogation techniques,” said public defender Andrea Konow, who represented Drayton with fellow public defender Marit Anderson. “He’s a big guy. I think he gets in there and bullies people, and he causes people to say things that may not be true.” MORE

PREVIOUSLY: It Takes A Village To Raze A Drug Dealer