After New Orleans lawyers joined with prosecutors to ask for the reversal of his murder conviction, a man who was nearly four decades in prison for a 1983 crime won his freedom on Thursday.
Both sides claimed that evidence of inconsistencies was not presented by the eyewitness. This was kept secret from Raymond Flanks’ jury. A state judge approved their joint motion to overturn Raymond Flanks’ conviction on Thursday morning.
Flanks, 59 (sometimes identified as Raymond Flank in court records) was convicted in December 1983 in the shooting death of Martin Carnesi in an armed robbery that took place outside his home.
Flanks was identified by Carnesi’s spouse. However, her descriptions of Flanks and the vehicle he used at trial were different from her statements to police and grand juries.
According to the motion, the victim Faye Carnesi had stated that the killer had a white blotch on one cheek and was in his 20s. He also claimed that he drove an older car.
The motion stated that “Mr. Flank was twenty-years-old, had no white spots on his face, and drove an old car. These were significant discrepancies.” It said that the jury might have been affected by this information.
According to the motion Flanks was arrested for the armed Robbery of a Groce Store. He was later convicted, but has not contest that verdict.
Flanks was twice tried for the Carnesi murder. In 1984, the first jury failed to convict Flanks of the Carnesi murder. Based on an examination of the weapon in 1985 by a federal laboratory, this was later proven to be false.
He was tried again by the prosecution in 1985, where he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life.
The motion stated that “The parties agree that in this case which relied upon a single eyewitness competent counsel armed the favorable evidence would be able to present an compelling case that Mrs. Carnesi wasn’t innocently mistaken when presented the wrong suspect.”
Flanks was released by the Innocence Project New Orleans. The case involved ” cross racial identification” — Flanks was a white eyewitness, but the victim was Black. This is a common wrongful conviction in New Orleans that involves withheld evidence.
Flanks’ relatives made it clear that they believe Flanks is still guilty.
Debra Carnesi Gonzales, her daughter, stated that she is still angry about the incident in a statement read by Casey Gonzales via Zoom.
Debra Gonzales, who recalled her father’s death on the ground, said that she didn’t believe her mother was wrong.
Flanks’ case is the latest in a series seeking to reverse convictions jointly by Jason Williams, District Attorney, who ran on reform platforms before taking office in January 2021 and criminal justice advocates. Williams has praised his office’s efforts in reviewing long-standing convictions that were based on nonunanimous jury verdicts. These are illegal in Louisiana and many other dubious convictions dating back decades.