- Last Updated: 4:48 AM, August 4, 2012
- Posted: 1:38 AM, August 4, 2012
The 17-year nightmare of a man imprisoned for a murder he didn’t commit will soon come to an end — thanks in large part to a nun who never lost faith in him.
Eric Glisson, one of five people convicted in the 1995 slaying of a livery driver in The Bronx, had exhausted his appeals three years before he met Sister Joanna Chan in 2006.
Chan, who ministers to inmates at Sing Sing, told The Post yesterday that she hears prisoners claiming innocence “all the time.’’
But she sensed something different about Glisson.
She was struck by the matter-of-fact way Glisson brought up Baithe Diop’s murder.
When she remarked that Glisson’s family had sent him a lot of food for the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, he replied: “That’s because they know I’m innocent.”
As she got to know him better, she became more convinced that he was innocent.
She referred him to Peter Cross, a corporate lawyer with little experience in criminal defense work.
“I met him and became convinced he was innocent,” Cross said.
With Cross’ help, Glisson gathered evidence and wrote a letter to the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office.
It ended up with federal investigator John O’Malley, a former Bronx homicide detective. He realized that details in the letter matched up with a confession he once heard from two members of a gang called Sex, Money and Murder.
His final report concluded that the “evidence is overwhelming that [SMM gangbangers] Jose Rodriguez and Gilbert Vega acted alone, robbed and shot Baithe Diop’’ — and that Glisson was wrongly convicted.
Glisson’s path hasn’t been been easy, said Chan, whom inmates call “Grandma.”
“Once in a while he would say, ‘Grandma, it is really, really hard,’ ” she said. “I always said ‘Eric, keep praying because you are innocent and someday it will be OK.”
During her visits, she became impressed with the work he’d done on his case. She quoted Cross saying that Glisson was “quite a detective.”
The nun was also struck by his faith. “I used to tease him — Eric prays more devoutly than all of our sisters here,” said Chan.
She last saw Glisson Wednesday, and found him overjoyed.
“Finally, Eric will be free,” she said. “It’s probably the greatest news I’ve heard since I started working in Sing Sing 11 years ago.”
The federal probe likely will also result in freedom for co-defendant Cathy Watkins. The three others stand convicted of another murder and could remain in prison.