A Brooklyn man convicted of a murder he did not commit is asking a judge to toss a $40,000 bill for child support he was unable to pay during his 18 years behind bars.
Sundhe Moses, 42, was cleared in January of the 1995 drive-by shooting that killed 4-year-old Shamone Johnson and injured several others, the New York Daily News reported. Moses is just one of nearly a dozen people whose convictions were overturned following a review of questionable police tactics by now-retired NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella.
Moses filed papers in Brooklyn Family Court last month urging the judge to vacate, or at least modify, his pricey child support bill, as he was unable to earn an income at the time.
“The reason that my arrears are the amount they are is because it accrued over a period of 18 and 1/2 years,” he said in court documents. “During that time, I was incarcerated for a crime I did not commit and therefore was unable to pay.”
It’s been more than four years since his release, but Moses still struggles to make ends meet. According to the Daily News, he can barely afford a lawyer and his bank account was frozen last week due to unpaid child support. Wages he earned working with the youth services group Good Shepherd were also garnished.
“Many states treat incarceration as voluntary unemployment — and child support continues to accrue while a convicted person is utterly incapable of earning a living,” said Moses’ attorney Ron Kuby. “It adds a crushing and utterly unfair burden to someone trying to get back on their feet. When the person is wrongfully convicted — it’s a ‘WTF!’ moment.”
During his lengthy prison stint and subsequent parole, Moses was hit with bill for a hefty $39,724.82 in child support, court documents show. About $10,000 of the total will go public assistance and the rest to his child’s mother. So far, however, Moses has only been able to pay $7,247.
“When a conviction is vacated in criminal court everything that happened reverses and you start over,” he explained to the Daily News. “… I am asking for family court to do the same thing and put me in the same position where I wouldn’t owe anything.”
Moses plans to sue over his time in jail, but must first await a decision from prosecutors on whether they’ll retry his case. In the meantime, the exoneree said he hopes to spend time getting to know his son, Shaquille, who was just 8 months old when Moses was sent to prison.
Moses is due back in family court next month.
“I don’t know anyone in my situation and I don’t know how this will go,” he said.