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Witness: Police Made Me Lie

January 28, 2000 GMT

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) _ A key witness in a 1973 murder trial testified Thursday that a police detective terrorized him into lying on the stand, at one point spinning the barrel of his gun as they sat in a jail cell.

Wayne Wright was one of two teen-age runaways whose testimony helped convict two prostitutes for the murder of Timothy Haworth, 52, a Philadelphia businessman who was battered and strangled in a Rochester alley in 1973.

At the retrial of John Duval, whose conviction was overturned last spring after he’d spent 25 years in prison, Wright maintained that chief detective William Mahoney had beaten him in custody and threatened to charge him with murder if he didn’t testify against Duval.

A day before he was to appear in court, Wright, who was held in jail as a material witness, said the detective nudged him awake in a jail cell and pulled out his revolver.

``He was just sitting there spinning the barrel of his revolver″ and asking if ``you know what you’re going to say″ on the stand, Wright said.

``I got up on the stand and regurgitated what they fed into me,″ he added.

He retracted his testimony in 1997.

The convictions were overturned a few months later after prosecutors came upon a buried synopsis of a police interview with the other teen, Jon Jackson, in which he denied seeing Duval or Tyson with the victim _ contrary to what the teens had testified at trial. Wright also says he never saw them together.

Duval and fellow prostitute Betty Tyson got 25 years to life imprisonment. In the absence of physical evidence, they were convicted of murder on the basis of confessions they insist were beaten out of them by Mahoney, and on the testimony of the two teens.

Prosecutors decided not to retry Tyson _ the city gave her $1.2 million in compensation _ but went after Duval again. While Tyson had steadfastly maintained her innocence, Duval had twice admitted his guilt before a parole board. He says he lied because he didn’t think he would be freed until he admitted guilt.

Mahoney, who was investigated at least 10 times for allegedly abusing suspects, resigned in 1980 after he was convicted of fabricating evidence in an unrelated case. He died in 1981.