The tall tale of Tomayo McDuffy, a teen accused of attempted murder, has a happy ending.
It was 10 minutes past 9 o’clock in the morning and I had just arrived to the Juanita Kidd Stout Criminal Justice Center in Center City Philadelphia to cover what was hopefully the last court case involving Mr. Tomayo McDuffy and a blind woman named Maria Colon, who was accusing him of attempted murder.
Within seconds of being in the crowded lobby, I bumped right into Mr. McDuffy, who seemed unusually calm, considering everything that could possibly go wrong today. We shook hands and I told I would meet him upstairs. I made it into the courtroom first, along with Racial Unity USA President, Asa Khalif, and there was Mr. McDuffy’s mother, Ms. Nesheba Adams, sitting alone with an anxious look on her face.
I greeted her and we all sat patiently. Award-winning journalist Linn Washington, who after hearing my interview on 900am WURD on Tuesday evening was enraged that this case was still being dragged on, had walked in moments later. And following him was activist Greg Brinkley, who bailed Mr. McDuffy out of Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in late September of 2013.
Judge Tamika Lane was presiding and Mr. Khalif assured me she was fair. Mr. McDuffy’s name was mentioned and a representative from the Office of the District Attorney’s said they didn’t have enough evidence to proceed to trail.
Mr. McDuffy’s lawyer, Bill Davis, asked Judge Lane: “is my client free to go?”
“Yes,” said the judge.
And that was that… Mr. McDuffy got his life back, though for the moment in that courtroom both he and his mother were suspended in shock.
“Unreal… it’s a gift,” said Ms. Adams, referring to having her son being freed and cleared less a week before Thanksgiving. “I fought for his freedom and I got it!”
The pictures of Ms. Adams and supporters marching through a thunderstorm last year to demand justice for Tomayo McDuffy speaks volume to the community’s commitment to clearing the young writer’s name.
“It took a lot of people and a lot of help,” said Ms. Adams, who tells me that having her son taken away from their home was “detrimental,” but now they’re ready to move on. “It’s going to be a blessed year for us,” she says, alerting me that she’s now a grandmother.
Mr. McDuffy has a one month old son named King Elijah, which is a not-so subtle homage to his faith and trust in God.
“I prayed yesterday and put it all in God’s hand” said Mr. McDuffy, teary-eyed, “I didn’t have any worries.”
“I was praying in the courtroom,” Ms. Adams interjects.
Mr. McDuffy says he has no hard feelings towards Mr. Seth Williams and the office he upholds, but those feeling weren’t mutual for all in attendance.
Mr. Washington, a legal expert and journalism professor, tells Techbook Online exclusively that what drew him into the case was “the manifest of injustice done to this young man and his long time interest in prosecutorial misconduct.”
“This case stank from day one… the case made no sense,” Washington asserted, noting that prosecutorial misconduct is perhaps the “biggest component of the structural injustice in the justice system, but it’s often overlooked.”
Mr. Washington feels that even a blind person (pun intended) could see this case wasn’t credible and he’s very disappointed in Seth Williams for allowing it to get this far.
Mr. Brinkley repeated that sentiment: “He should seek justice, not just convictions.”
For Mr. Brinkley, Mr. Khalif, Mr. Lloyd, Mr. Washington and the other bold, active citizens who stood by this young black man as he was bullied by the system, their fight against the establishment will continue with the next case or story they pick up.
But for Mr. McDuffy and Ms. Adams, they’re all out of fight – at least for now – and they hope to never see the inside of the Juanita Kidd Stout Criminal Justice Center again.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO BLACK MALE THOUGHT-LEADERS DISCUSS RACE, POLITICS AND THE POLICE.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™