The Central Park Five are a group of Black and hispanic men who were arrested and wrongfully convicted for the rape of a white woman named Trisha Meili in 1989. The group was later cleared of the charges after convicted rapist Matias Reyes admitted to the assault. The case will be featured on tonight’s episode of ABC’s 20/20.
Reyes is currently serving a life sentence in prison according to the New York Department of Corrections. He will be eligible for parole in 2022. After his confession, the City of New York paid the wrongfully convicted men $41 million.
Reyes came forward after meeting Korey Wise, one of the men who was convicted of the crime, in prison. Wise was the only one of the five who was tried and convicted as an adult for the crime.
Read on to learn more about The Central Park Five’s time in prison and when they were ultimately released.
The Central Park Five Each Served a Different Amount of Time Behind Bars
On April 19, 1989, police were scrambling to respond to calls about teens harassing people in Central Park. #ABC2020'S 'One Night in Central Park’ airs at 9pm on @ABC. https://t.co/u6LgcUa4dm pic.twitter.com/dMlHPoxTgC
— 20/20 (@ABC2020) August 21, 2020
Because they were sentenced separately, each of the Central Park Five served different amounts of time behind bars.
Antron McCray, who was 15 years old at the time of his arrest in connection with the rape of Trisha Meili, was instructed to confess by his father, who was under the impression that police would then let him go. He was tried as a juvenile and convicted of rape and assault. He spent a total of six years behind bars after being sentenced to 5-10 years.
Kevin Richardson was 14 years old when he was arrested, and Newsweek reports that he was the sole source of DNA evidence used to convict the five boys. During the trial, a forensic analyst said that a hair found on the victim was “similar” to Richardson’s hair. When DNA evidence was reexamined years later, this was found to be incorrect. Richardson served five and a half years behind bars before being released. He was also sentenced to 5-10 years.
Yusef Salaam was the same age as McCray when he was arrested, and he was also sentenced to 5-10 years. He spent longer behind bars than McCray, though. Salaam was in jail for 6 years and 8 months.
Fourteen-year-old Raymond Santana was also arrested in 1989 for the attack on Meili, and he was tried as a juvenile. Santana spent five years in prison.
Korey Wise Spent The Longest Amount of Time in Prison
Trisha Meili said she went for her routine run through New York City’s Central Park after work the night of April 19, 1989. A little before midnight, however, her body was found in a remote ravine. #OneNightInCentralPark – starts at 9|8c tonight! https://t.co/u6LgcTSsOM pic.twitter.com/wFMWjGmfFn
— 20/20 (@ABC2020) August 21, 2020
Korey Wise was 16 at the time of the attack. He’d been friends with Salaam and had gone to the police station with him for support after Salaam had been called in for questioning. At that time, the police reportedly decided to interview Wise as well.
Since Wise was 16 years old, police were able to interrogate him without a parent or guardian. He also struggled with learning difficulties and hearing problems, which may have led to him being more easily coerced than the other boys.
Wise was tried as an adult and spent 12 years behind bars. At the Auburn Correctional Facility, he met Reyes, who ended up confessing to the attack on Meili.
The Central Park Five were finally exonerated in 2002, and Wise was released after spending 14 years behind bars. He has since donated to organizations like the University of Colorado Law School Innocence Project, which has been renamed the Korey Wise innocence project.