New evidence suggesting that the suspected killer of a Teaneck man was framed could set him free from a lifetime in prison -- that is, if the judge will even consider the testimony.
In 2006, Afrim Tairi and two others were convicted of the fatal beating of Howard Lewis, co-owner of Paterson's Sealy Mattress Co. Four years later, Tairi was sentenced to life in prison.
Tairi's co-defendants recently told a "jailhouse lawyer" that he never actually killed Lewis -- he was framed, NJ.com reports .
Tairi's lawyers are fighting to toss the conviction and get him a new trial. Secondhand claims, however, can't be substantiated and don't meet legal standard for a new trial, the article says.
Paterson's Felix DeJesus and Edwin Torres, formerly a Sealy employee, were suspected of beating Lewis in his mother's Teaneck home before he ultimately chocked on his own vomit and died, records say. They both said -- in the same interrogation room -- that Tairi was the ringleader, NJ.com reports.
DeJesus and Torres were convicted while Tairi, a Macedonian native, was at large. He was later arrested in Switzerland and returned to the U.S. in 2006. Torres testified that Tairi was the ringleader in the Lewis' robbery -- along with another two Bergen County.
But during a Sept. 12 hearing, attorney Ernesto Cerimele said there was not a "single piece of evidence" connecting Tairi to the crimes, other than testimony, NJ.com says.
DeJesus admitted to fellow inmate Steven Kadonsky -- sentenced to life in prison for running a marijuana distribution warehouse in Piscataway -- that Torres framed Tairi because he was foreign, the report says. He also told the "jailhouse lawyer" that they met Tairi playing soccer in Paterson -- not a pool hall where they initially said he had orchestrated the robbery and others, NJ.com says.
Torres told Kadonsky that Paterson drug-dealer Alexander Cowan, now dead, was the third criminal -- not Tairi, the story says.
Superior Court Judge James Sattely last month said he has yet to consider Kadonsky's testimony, NJ.com says.
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