This November, 81-year-old Paul Gatling will get to do something many Americans take for granted —he will vote for a presidential candidate.
That’s because Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson vacated Paul’s invalid 1964 murder conviction and restored his rights… including his right to vote.
“I wanted my name cleared,” Paul said. “Most of all, I just want to vote before I die.” Paul added his only regret is that President Obama won’t be on the ballot. “That’s a big deal for me. I couldn’t vote for the first black president.”
Here’s what happened: Paul Gatling’s ordeal began in October 1963 when a gunman burst into the home of well-known Brooklyn artist Lawrence Rothbort and killed him with a shotgun. When a convicted felon brought up Paul’s name in connection to the crime, and then with Rothbort’s widow ID’ing him, the then 29-year-old decorated Korean War veteran found himself in a world of trouble.
“The cops told me they would make sure I was convicted and the lawyers said they were going to execute me,” Paul said. “I was a young black man. With the white, pregnant wife [of the artist] in front of an all-white jury pointing me out, it was over.”
On the advice of his lawyer, Paul pleaded guilty to avoid the electric chair and was slammed with a 30-years to life sentence and sent to Attica.
Long story short, a young Legal Aid lawyer named Malvina Nathanson took an interest in Paul’s case, and then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller commuted the wrongly convicted man’s sentence in 1974 and released him from prison.
But it’s taken all these years for Paul Gatling to have his conviction vacated and rights restored.
Source: The GED Section