Martin Tankleff

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Martin H. "Marty" Tankleff (born August 29, 1971) is a Long Island, New York, resident who was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wealthy parents, Seymour and Arlene Tankleff, on September 7, 1988, when he was 17 years old. After serving more than 17 years of imprisonment, his conviction was vacated and he was released from prison in 2007.


Tankleff was admitted to the New York State Department of Correctional Services in October 1990. In State custody, Tankleff was incarcerated at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, in a special housing unit called "APPU" for high-profile inmates and inmates at high risk of victimization.

Trial and acquittal[edit]

Tankleff was convicted of killing his parents, Seymour and Arlene Tankleff, on June 28, 1990 and sentenced to two consecutive terms of 25 years to life in prison. A 2003 appeal, however, presented new evidence from 20 witnesses,[1] and an appellate court ultimately overturned his conviction after Tankleff served 17 years in prison. Tankleff was represented by attorney Barry Pollack.[2]

Before the Suffolk County District Attorney dropped the charges, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer appointed[3] New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as special prosecutor in the case. From his staff, Cuomo selected Chief Trial Counsel, Benjamin Rosenberg, and veteran homicide prosecutor, Thomas Schellhammer, to reinvestigate the case.[4] On June 16, 2008, Rosenberg announced the results of the Attorney General's investigation. "The issue in this case is not whether there is evidence," he said to Justice Doyle, "but whether there is sufficient evidence." Rosenberg then announced: "The people move to dismiss the indictment." In the same motion, prosecutors announced they would not proceed against suspects identified by Tankleff's defense team, revealing that, "on balance, the defense theory does not appear to be supported by clear evidence."

On July 22, 2008, Justice Doyle concurred with the Attorney General's motion to dismiss. All charges facing Tankleff were dropped; he would not face retrial.[5]

The incident and subsequent trials were the subject of A Criminal Injustice: A True Crime, a False Confession, and the Fight to Free Marty Tankleff, published by Ballantine Books in 2008.

On January 7, 2014, Tankleff was awarded $3.4 million from the state after settling his wrongful conviction lawsuit. Tankleff graduated from law school at Touro Law Center on May 25, 2014. On April 2017, he passed the New York State bar exam. [6]


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