The Maryland Board of Public Works is scheduled to vote on May 1 whether to approve more than $2.98 million in compensation for a man who says he was wrongfully convicted and served decades in prison over a 1986 killing in Baltimore.

Gary Washington, now 63, of Baltimore, spent more than 31 years incarcerated on charges of first-degree murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence in the deadly shooting of Faheem “Bobo” Ali. The shooting happened on Barclay Street, between East 23rd and East 24th streets in Barclay, on Dec. 27, 1986. He was 17, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.

In 2018, Baltimore Circuit Judge Charles J. Peters granted a petition for writ of actual innocence and awarded Washington a new trial. The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office in 2019 dropped the charges.

Administrative Law Judge Ann C. Kehinde on Jan. 2 ruled, over the objection of the State’s Attorney’s Office, that Washington was erroneously convicted, sentenced and incarcerated and awarded him compensation.

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“Based on all of the evidence, which I have reviewed carefully, I conclude by clear and convincing evidence that the Claimant did not shoot and killed Mr. Ali and was not involved in the crime as an accomplice or accessory,” Kehinde wrote the decision.

Washington, who has maintained his innocence from the beginning, alleged that a friend was responsible for the killing. The friend has not been charged with the shooting.

A then-12-year-old, Otis Robinson, implicated Washington in the homicide. Robinson later recanted and claimed that police threatened him into giving false testimony.

“You know, I was taught that the police is to protect and serve,” Robinson testified in 2017. “But I was manipulated by them to place this man in prison for something he possibly didn’t do.”

Meanwhile, Assistant State’s Attorney Genevieve Vallar wrote in court documents that the administrative law judge erred when she determined that Washington’s “self-serving, uncorroborated statements were credible when available evidence presented demonstrated a clear pattern of dishonesty.”

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Vallar said the administrative law judge was “no longer being an unbiased fact-finder” because she discounted relevant evidence and “completely undermines the judicial system because she believed that the Baltimore Police Department got it wrong.”

Baltimore Circuit Judge Troy K. Hill on April 5 upheld the decision.

If the board approves the compensation, Washington would receive an initial payment of almost $95,000 on June 4. He would receive six subsequent payments each of more than $481,000 until 2027. The body is composed of Gov. Wes Moore, Comptroller Brooke Lierman and Treasurer Dereck Davis.

In 2019, Washington filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore against the Baltimore Police Department and police officers involved in the case.

U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher in 2023 ruled in favor of the police officers. The decision is now up on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.

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