Fordham Law alumnus Donald DiGioia ’76 was featured in a NJ.com article about his work to help free a man who served 24 years of a 60-year prison sentence for a murder he likely didn’t commit.
The bright smile and vibrant spirit of 45-year-old Jean Dorval are a stark contradiction to the life he has lived.
Dorval served 24 years of a 60-year prison sentence for a murder he likely didn’t commit. The state Supreme Court vacated his conviction in 2015, and on April 30 the Union County prosecutors dismissed all charges against him.
The next day, he walked free.
“I always believed one day the truth would come out and I’d be home. I never lost hope,” Dorval said, smiling.
His first steps of freedom also served as a reunion with his buddy and co-defendant Duquene Pierre, 46, who was released from prison two years before Dorval.
Dorval and Pierre were convicted in 1996 for the murder of 19-year-old Richard Jerry Myers in Elizabeth. On that day, at that time, however, both men were in Georgia, on their way to Florida.
Although they had a speeding ticket in South Carolina issued just hours before the crime and plenty of other evidence from their trip down South, a prosecutor and a jury still believed they committed the murder in New Jersey. The two men were convicted and sentenced to 60-year sentences.
That same evidence played a key factor during Pierre’s retrial in 2015. In addition, witnesses at the murder scene who originally identified Dorval and Pierre recanted their story and two attorneys at a Mountainside firm — Don DiGioia and Linda Mehling — decided to take their case.