Remember the moment in The Shawshank Redemption when the new inmate Tommy tells Andy Dufresne that he once shared a bunk with Andy's wife's real killer? Andy is convinced he's found his ticket out of jail and heads straight to the warden to start digging for evidence to corroborate Tommy's story. Only when the warden hears the tale, he says, essentially, "Forget about it." That's a pretty close comparison to how Dawud Malik felt in 1998 when his attorney obtained a lost FBI report from 1966 that, at least in his mind, proves his innocence. A judge, however, promptly denied Malik's request for a new trial.
Three days later, on May 25, Smith committed his third and final crime. He and a partner targeted a home owned by an elderly couple named Simon and Reva Krimsky, ages 85 and 66. At around 3:45 a.m., Smith and the other man forced their way through the Krimskys' front door. Woken by the commotion, Reva let out a scream before being strangled to death by Smith, who used a necktie Simon had left laying in the living room. When Simon emerged from the bedroom, Smith and his partner told the old man to lie down next to his wife. When he tried to raise his head to see what was going on, the shorter of the two men kicked him.
The burglars left the Krimsky home half an hour later with only $9 and two wristwatches. Simon then called police from a neighbor's house and gave them a description of his wife's killer. Smith was arrested later that night. It was then that he first mentioned his friend Malik.
Based on Simon Krimsky's eyewitness testimony, Malik was convicted of the murder. Never mentioned during the trial was the FBI report, which had been commissioned by Seattle Police. In fact, neither Malik nor his attorneys even knew such a report existed until Malik had been in jail for more than 30 years. From the story:
Then two years later [in 1998], one of Malik's former attorneys [Leta Schattauer] obtained what Malik thought would be the key piece of forensic evidence that would lead to his exoneration. Through a request under the Freedom of Information Act, he received an FBI report dated June 20, 1966 that contained "a microscopic analysis" of soil found on his shoes the day he was arrested.
The Krimsky intruders had left footprints, and Seattle police had asked the FBI to determine if the dirt on Malik's shoes was the same as the soil in the couple's flower bed. The results were negative, as was a test to see if the shoes had fibers or hairs from the crime scene.
The report--which was never mentioned during the original trial--did not have the impact Malik had hoped for. In 1999, the Washington State Supreme Court denied his request for a new trial, writing that Simon Krimsky's eyewitness identification was stronger than the new evidence. Subsequent appeals also were denied.
Here's the FBI report:Dawud Malik FBI Report
And here's a portion of Krimsky's courtroom testimony. The 85-year-old man says he "thinks" Malik is one of the men who attacked him and his wife, but he's not sure. He says police showed him lots of pictures, but he could only pick out "one from the two that was in my place." The "one" would be Leodis Smith, who eventually confessed to the killing:Dawud Malik Trial: Simon Krimsky Testimony