Marty Tankleff: 17 Years of Wrongful Imprisonment

Friday, July 11, 2008

In December 2007, Marty Tankleff was released from prison, where he had been locked up for 17 years for the 1988 Long Island murder of his parents, Arlene and Seymour Tankleff. The state attorney general’s office recently announced that it would not retry Tankleff for the murder. Now he’s studying at Hofstra to become a defense attorney. He joins us along with us lawyer, Bruce Barket, to talk about surviving so many years of wrongful imprisonment, how he’s adapting to post-prison life, and whether he and his legal team plan to seek justice from Suffolk County's law enforcement agencies -- or from the men they believe committed the crimes, Seymour Tankleff's former business associates.


Bruce Barket and Marty Tankleff

Comments [13]

Christina from Sweden

I cry for Marty Tankleff and wish him a good life after............

Jul. 22 2008 04:09 PM
BobbyO from Riverhead, NY

There are so many sad aspects to Marty Tankleff's case that it is hard to say which is the worst. I will say that since there is sufficient information to assist in identifying who really murdered Marty's parents, the decision by AG Cuomo not to pursue them is also a tragedy! It's not like the unknown guy who OJ Simpson is still trying to identify who really murdered his ex-wife wife Nicole and her boyfriend!

Jul. 12 2008 10:35 AM


Jul. 11 2008 08:59 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Please add a link to The Innocence Project & any info about how people can help free innocent people serving time &/or facing the death penalty on false convictions. Thank God Marty Tankleff was finally freed after spending 1/2 his life in prison, but if there are 10s-100s of thousands of others, as Bruce Barket says, it's gonna take a lot of work & money to help them.

Jul. 11 2008 12:50 PM
speedy from yorkville

free the west memphis three. check out:

an outrageous miscarriage of american justice.

Jul. 11 2008 12:40 PM
al oof from brooklyn

you should mention the central park jogger case. all of those kids served time for a crime they did not commit. it was in the news for years when the attack happened, but their exoneration was basically a footnote on the news.

Jul. 11 2008 12:40 PM
Michelle from SoHo

I am the same age as Marty and grew up close by in Setauket. I could never imagine that such a crime could be committed in our protected communities, let alone by someone my own age. I have always felt that he was wrongly imprisoned. I would guess that he has no plans to return to Port Jeff, where will he live now? How do you rebuild a life after this?

Jul. 11 2008 12:24 PM
Zak from Brooklyn, NY

Additionally, with interrogation and intimidation techniques, this case proves why the United States should once and for all ban the death penalty. It's bad enough that this happens at Gitmo, but to have it happen in Suffolk County?

Jul. 11 2008 12:19 PM
Zak from Brooklyn, NY

Such cases as these are an absolute travesty of American justice. I grew up in the Chicago area and I will never forget the case of Jeanine Nicarico and the eventual and merciful release of Rolando Cruz. You can read more about that case here, through Barry Sheck's Innocence Project web site:

Marty, thank goodness you got your life back. I am so sorry you had to spend 17 years in prison for a crime you did not commit. As if losing your parents as a 17 year old weren't hard enough...

Jul. 11 2008 12:16 PM
Alice from NYC

What a sad story! Why did the prosecuters have it in for this kid? I don't get it. Were they scared that otherwise they would have no one to charge with the case?

Jul. 11 2008 12:15 PM
David! from NYC

Back in 2005 or '06, in NC, two wrongfully convicted people were finally released from prison. Alan Gell was wrongfully convicted for homicide, while Darryl Hunt was wrongfully convicted for rape. What was noteable to me was that, in each case, the State of NC cut corners to get the conviction. In Gell's case, the state knowingly failed to turn over exculpatory (sp?) evidence to the defense. In Hunt's case, the only evidence was circumstantial. DNA evidence later cleared Hunt.
Here's the rub: even after Hunt was cleared by DNA and Gell was cleared by the release of the exculpatory, both remained in detention until public pressure caused judges to review the cases and order the release.
I think of Chaucer's "Priest's Tale" in The Canterbury Tales: "If gold shall rust, what will iron do?"
The public is not served by over-zealous prosecutors.

Jul. 11 2008 11:47 AM
Terri Hamel from Los Angeles County

"Had my interrogation been recorded, I would not have served 6,338 days in prison," Marty said, adding, "There's no downside to recording. The truth gets exposed. ... Does 17 years of my life cost as much as it does to record interrogations? How many other men have to serve time in prison because somebody says it costs too much? I can record this entire event on my cell phone. It's ridiculous."

Amen to that!

Jul. 09 2008 08:34 PM
Terri Hamel from Los Angeles County

As a former teacher of twenty years, with a reputation for relentlessly following up on kids who were trying to get away with doing wrong, it took me about a minute to conclude that Marty Tankleff did not fit that kind of profile. The American Justice documentary left me feeling encouraged and hopeful that law enforcement officials will be increasingly held accountable for using wrongful tactics to elicit so-called confessions, leaving the real perpetrators at large, in order to wrap up a case. G-d bless you, Marty Tankleff, and may you prosper in what is going to be a wonderful and meaningful career.
Terri Hamel

Jul. 09 2008 08:33 PM

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