Gov. Hochul Frees Man Whom Shooting Victim Advocated For
THE CITY in 2021 highlighted the story of David Herion and how his alleged victim, Carolyn Jones, had pushed to get him home to his family.
The holiday clemency season came early for David Herion.
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday commuted Herion’s 45-year prison sentence for attempted murder — after a stray bullet he and a co-defendant allegedly fired in September 1997 struck the head of a woman as she walked out of a Bedford-Stuyvesant church.
Hochul also commuted two other sentences and pardoned 10 people .
Shortly after taking office, Hochul announced plans to reform the clemency process by creating an advisory panel of impartial experts. Criminal justice advocates have urged her to issue more commutations on a rolling basis — and not just around the holidays.
As for Herion, 49, in February 2021 THE CITY highlighted his decades behind bars and how his alleged victim — Carolyn Jones — had pushed former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to free him. He served 25 years of his 45-year sentence but wasn’t eligible for parole until 2035.
In 2017, Cuomo commuted the 25-to-50-year sentence of Herion’s co-defendant, citing Michael Flournoy’s “deep friendship with the victim and her son, who now consider him a member of their family.”
Herion has also long maintained he was visiting his friend in the hospital when the shooting occurred. That friend has twice sworn in affidavits that Herion was at the hospital at that time.
“I just think that this case is a perfect example of so many of the ways that our criminal punishment system just doesn’t serve anybody,” said his lawyer, Kathrina Szymborski Wolfkot of the MacArthur Justice Center.
Herion has also filed a petition with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s conviction review unit.
‘I’m Going to Have a Father’
Jones, who was shot in the head, has supported Herion’s release — and said she could not have closure until he was freed.
“I want him home yesterday,” she told THE CITY two years ago. “He needs to be with his family.”
Jones could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.
Herion was never a threat to society, added Szymborski Wolfkot, who initially worked on the case alongside the law firm of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler.
“As New Yorkers, we need to take a long and hard look at the people who are currently in prison, especially those serving these long sentences from the 90s,” she added. “And I think Mr. Herion should serve as a catalyst for us to do that.”
After being locked up for more than 26 years, Herion got news of his release Friday from the warden at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, according to his lawyer.
But he’s not set for release until Oct. 10, when the discharge planning paperwork is complete.
His daughter initially didn’t believe his sentence was commuted.
“I thought he was lying,” Taquira Brooks told THE CITY. “I looked him up online and saw the announcement. I started screaming with excitement.”
Her father was sent away when she was 2 years old. She will turn 29 a few days before his formal release.
He plans to live with her and her two young children in East New York, she said.
“I just can’t wait,” she said. “I’m super, super excited. Everytime I talk about it, the hairs on my skin go up. I just keep saying, ‘I’m going to have a father.’”
As for the other commutations, Gregory Goodwine, 56, was sentenced to 25 years to life after being convicted of robbery and weapon possession for stealing a purse outside a grocery store in November 2004. Goodwine, who was on parole at the time, has always maintained his innocence, saying the robber actually raced past him in Yonkers.
“Being on parole and not wanting to be falsely accused for whatever the man was running from, I crawled under a parked vehicle, in hopes the police would catch him,” he wrote in a Change.org petition.
He has served close to 19 years and finished multiple rehabilitation programs, according to Hochul’s announcement.
Myeshia Hawkins-Taylor, 49, also had her sentence commuted. In 2017, she was sentenced to 16 years in prison for attempted murder after she dumped cooking oil and stabbed her boyfriend inside a Harlem apartment.
“Hawkins-Taylor is a survivor of severe physical, sexual, and emotional abuse inflicted by family members and others, and the instant offense occurred while she was suffering a post-traumatic episode,” Hochul’s office said, noting that she has since “reconciled” with her boyfriend, who supported clemency.