In 1995, Eric Glisson was arrested for a taxi driver’s murder and eventually sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Glisson was convicted for the Jan. 19, 1995, murder of Bronx cabbie Baithe Diop after a woman named Miriam Tavares testified that she had seen and heard the murderers from her bathroom window. Glisson, who was sentenced to 25 years to life on Feb. 3, 1995, was one of six people Tavares pointed out. The group was quickly labeled “The Bronx Six.”
From New York’s maximum-security prison Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Glisson relied heavily on the Freedom of Information Act to prove his innocence claims after his appeals were denied,
Cross became convinced of Glisson’s innocence after he visited the scene of the crime and noted it would have been impossible for Tavares to have seen or heard anything from her bathroom window as it was 100 yards away. However, it wasn’t until 2012, after Glisson had been in prison for over 17 years that he was able to obtain undeniable evidence of his innocence. Cell phone records from Diop’s mobile, which Glisson got a copy of through the Freedom of Information Act, revealed the phone had been used to call family of two Bronx Sex, Money, Murder gang members after the murder and the district attorney had known all along, NBC reported in 2014. By coincidence, a letter Glisson wrote to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York crossed the desk of Investigator John O’Malley, the man who’d heard Bronx Sex, Money, Murder gang members Jose Rodriguez and Gilbert Vega confess to killing Diop 10 years prior.
O’Malley, who told Dateline he’d had no idea someone was serving time for Rodriguez and Vega’s crime until that time, signed an affidavit testifying to Glisson’s innocence. Glisson would sit in prison another four months before prosecutors completed the legal process to set him and another member of the alleged “Bronx Six” free on Oct. 22, 2012. Glisson spent four months shy of 18 years in prison
Were you framed? Was it a mismanaged case or both? Seems odd that 5 people go to jail for one murder.
I believe it was both.
Were the real killers connected to you in any way, did you know them or know of them before your arrest and wrongful sentence?
I didn’t know them personally, but apparently they lived in my neighborhood.
What did they have for evidence to convict you/how were you convicted?
They had an eye-witness who falsified her testimony. She was drug addicted and homeless, and said she saw all of us exiting the back of a taxi cab. There was no forensics, no fingerprints, no nothing.
Do you believe racism played a role in your conviction?
I believe that it’s not just about racism, it’s about not being able to afford a competent attorney.
Did you have any friends or family who believed you were guilty and how did that go?
A lot of family members and friends were under the impression that I actually committed this crime and as a circumstance of that and abandoned me. They all now know the truth and have taken steps to amend their past judgement of me and I’ve accepted it.
Do you blame them for thinking you were guilty?
No, it’s typical. Once you’re accused of a crime and you sit at the defense table, everyone is skeptical.
What was the biggest shock when you first got to prison?
It’s not the image you see on TV. There’s not as much violence, the food isn’t as bad. If your family sends you food packages, you can actually cook for yourself.
Were you ever victim to any violence while in prison? How did you get along with other inmates and the officers?
I mostly stayed to myself, and frequented the law library a lot. I taught a lot of people to read and write. I taught the GED class. I stayed busy. I went to prison with a sixth grade education and left with a bachelors of behavioral science.
How in the loop were you with what was going on outside of the jail on a World/Political level? From what I can gather you were in prison over 9/11/2001. We hear what it was like for people who had the news readily available, what was your experience like?
Newspapers were my only connection to the outside world. And radio.
When the other inmates asked what you were in for, did you bother to tell them that you’re innocent and if so, what was their reaction (to what you were in for and that you were claiming to be innocent)?
I told everyone I was innocent. There were mixed responses until the facts of the case were revealed.
Did you ever consider suicide while being trapped in there?
Several times. When you lose all of your appeals, and you have to consider that you’ll be in there the rest of your life because parole almost is never given to convicted murders, you think the only relief is to end it. But, something inside you keeps telling you to fight.
Was there ever a time when you didn’t think you being freed was going to happen?
Every second you are under the impression you will never get out of there, but you have to think optimistically and think that a day would come that you would eventually be released.
How do you keep yourself from hating everyone and life? Is there some sort of inner peace that you realized while inside that allowed you to stay sane?
What good would it do to hate everyone? That’s not who I am.
During the time you were imprisoned, what was the one thing you truly missed the most?
My daughter. I was taken away from her one week after she was born. She’s 19 now.
How is your relationship with your daughter now?
Strained, and still it feels like she resents me for leaving her for all of these years.
How one can launch their own investigation from their cell? That sounds extremely hard.
It was hard. I used the FOIA(Freedom of Inormation Act). I have a stack of letters I sent… they denied me for years. Finally, in 2012 I got ONE document that opened the whole case up and proved who the real killers were.
Why did it take so long for you to be exonerated? Did they just recently look into the circumstances of your case? Did your investigation have anything to do with them looking into it?
I did my own research and investigation and found the real killers from inside my cell. Only when the US Attorneys office got involved did the courts in the Bronx take this matter seriously and re-investigate the case.
How long after you found out who the real criminals were did you remain in prison?
Almost eight months.
Have you spoken with the prosecutors who worked to convict you? What have they said about the situation?
The prosecutor who convicted me had a massive heart attack in court, and died during a different murder trial.
What did they say when they released you? “Our bad”?
They didn’t say anything. I went up to the assistant DA who opposed every appeal that I filed and I shook her hand and told her it was finally nice to meet my long-term nemesis, and she’s won a lot of battles but I just won the war. Seemed to me she put her head down in shame.
What was your first meal, and how was it?
My first meal was lamb chops and cheese cake, which was awesome. It was like the first time ever tasting lamb chops again.
What most shocked you about the world today after being in prison for so long?
Seeing all of these young kids, how the subculture has changed. With all the piercings, and body tattoos, they way they dress with their pants hanging.
Biggest shock as far as technology goes?
Have you gotten used to them yet?
I’ve ran through about seven of them so far. I keep breaking them! The screens are fragile, and I washed one in the washing machine.
Did you play any video games before 1995, and have you tried any of the newest ones, for comparison?
I played Nintendo, but now I have an Xbox360. Graphics are totally different.
Has the stigma of once being in prison for murder been hard to live with? Such as finding a job or anything like that?
I have difficulties with credit issues, housing. I just got a new apartment, and had to pay a full years rent because I don’t have credit.
I opened a juice bar in the Bronx called Fresh Take On Life, and work there every day.
Michigan is possibly going to pass a law that would pay people like you $60,000 per year for incorrect incarceration. As someone who has actually went through this and isn’t just one of us sideline commentators, do you believe that $1,080,000 would be ample compensation for the 18 years you spent behind bars?
Do you think you’re a rare exception or do you think this kind of injustice happens all the time?
It happens all the time. More than you know.
What are you going to do with your free time now? Are you going to start helping others who feel like they have been wrongly convicted?
I am currently trying to persuade anyone that I can to help me fund a foundation called Chimes of Freedom, to help exonerate other innocent individuals.
If you could advocate for one change in the justice system, what would it be? And what piece of evidence did the prosecutors focus on the most?
That prosecutors and detectives be held accountable for their actions if they cover up evidence.
What’s your very best life advice?
Just enjoy everything that comes your way. Whatever circumstance you find yourself in, good or bad, just take everything in stride. It’ll get better before you know it.