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September 3, 2015

DAILYKENN.com -- The person accused of killing a millionaire and his aide in 1996 may face a fifth trial.

Selwyn Day is accused of murdering 79-year-old millionaire Archie Harris and Betty Ramcharan, 35.

His most recent conviction was overturned because he was not allowed to introduce expert testimony.

The crimes occurred in Eastchester, New York.

Please report typos...

The next chapter of Selwyn Days' legal saga could feature a fifth trial for two 1996 Eastchester murders after his latest conviction was overturned by a state appellate court on Wednesday.

The Mount Vernon man continues to fight for his freedom after being found guilty of killing 79-year-old millionaire Archie Harris and his 35-year-old home health aide, Betty Ramcharan. He claims he's innocent.

The Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, reversed the Dec. 20, 2011 conviction based on Days' appeal that he was not allowed to introduce expert testimony on the issue of false confessions, according to the court's ruling. The case back to Westchester County Court for a new trial, which would be his fifth in the case.

"We're thrilled about the decision," said Glenn Garber, founder and director of the Exoneration Initiative, which provides legal assistance to people who claim to be wrongfully convicted in New York. The Exoneration Initiative is representing Days, along with the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Garber said he was not sure if the case would be retried and had not yet spoken to the Westchester County District Attorney's Office.

A spokesman for District Attorney District Attorney Janet DiFiore said Thursday she would review the decision and had not decided on the next step.

Days, who was sentenced to consecutive 25-years-to-life prison terms, was arrested in 2001 in the slayings of Harris and Ramcharan, who were found beaten and stabbed to death in Harris' home at 4 Berkley Circle.

Days, a career petty criminal, had accused Harris of sexually abusing his mother four months before the real estate investor was killed.

He became a suspect after he was arrested for violating an order of protection against his former girlfriend, who went to police later that day and said that he had confessed the murders to her. He confessed to police after a seven-hour interrogation and nearly 14 hours in custody, according to the ruling.

In 2003, Days' first trial ended in a hung jury, but he was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder at his second trial in 2004. He was sentenced to 50 years, and his conviction was upheld by the appellate court.

Days appealed that conviction, claiming that his counsel was ineffective. Westchester County Court agreed in 2009, vacating the judgment and ordering a new trial.

The third trial again ended with a hung jury in 2011, but he was found guilty in his fourth trial.

The appellate court's decision Wednesday to overturn that conviction was based on the Westchester County Court's decision in 2011 to bar expert testimony on the issue of false confessions. The Westchester County Court did not allow the expert testimony because it deemed the issue to be "within the understanding of an average juror," according to the appellate court.

The expert testimony was relevant in Days' case, though, according to the appellate court, which noted the lack of physical evidence or eyewitness testimony linking Days to the murders, as well as the videotaped confession, in which officers "repeatedly employed suggestive and leading questions, fed the defendant specific details related to the crime scene, and used rapport-building techniques."

The appellate court also said that "significant concerns" were raised by the fact that only the last 75 minutes, the confession, of the seven-hour interrogation were videotaped.

Days' two experts in false confessions, Dr. Jessica Pearson and Dr. Richard A. Leo, had determined Days to be particularly vulnerable to false confessions, based in part on his low intelligence and history of mental illness, according to the ruling.

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  1. Low intelligence and history of mental illness...and they think he needs to be out walking around with the rest of us?