(NewsReady.com) – A New York judge has revoked the convictions of two men imprisoned for a brutal 1993 murder. The pair were found guilty in 1994, after one confessed and implicated the other, but a lawyer says new DNA evidence proves they didn’t do it. Fingers are being pointed at another man, who’s now dead — but that could be linked to a conspiracy theory.
On February 17, 1993, Deborah Meindl’s daughter discovered her body in their Buffalo, New York, home; she’d been handcuffed, stabbed 11 times, then strangled to death. After several months, two local thieves were arrested on suspicion of the killing. One of them, Brian Scott Lorenz, confessed to the crime and claimed James Pugh was also involved. However, Pugh always insisted he was innocent, and after the two were convicted and sentenced to life in 2014, Lorenz also changed his tune and claimed he wasn’t guilty.
Then, over 20 years later, a new suspect appeared. Murderers Richard Sweat and David Matt broke out of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York; Sweat was recaptured alive, but Matt was shot dead by a Border Patrol agent. Then, Sweat told an incredible story; he said Matt had told him he killed Meindl because a corrupt cop he’d been working with — who later led the Meindl murder investigation — was worried she would reveal details of their crimes.
Now, a New York Supreme Court judge has reviewed the case. On August 23, he ordered that Lorenz and Pugh’s convictions be set aside and the two given a new trial. This is a procedural move, though. Judge Paul B. Wojtaszek said new evidence justified a new trial, but he also rejected their protests of innocence and said Sweat’s story was “totally unworthy of belief.” Pugh and Lorenz will get another chance to plead their cases, but they’re still the main suspects.
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