Broward County man gets $817K after being wrongfully imprisoned for 16 years

The Governor signed the relief measure.

A Broward County man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 16 years after he was misidentified in an armed robbery will be getting $817,000 — and an apology — from the state, according to legislation Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed.

In 2020, Leonard Cure was the first person exonerated as a result of a Broward County initiative reviewing questionable convictions. Democratic Sen. Shevrin Jones introduced the claims bill (SB 8) in the Senate to compensate him for his wrongful imprisonment, and Democratic Rep. Michael Gottlieb carried it in the House.

“The arrests, conviction and incarceration of Leonard Cure represents an unfortunate and dark chapter in the history of the Broward Sheriff’s Office,” Gottlieb said after the Friday signing. “This claims bill helps to right that wrong by compensating Mr. Cure for the 16 years that he lost being wrongfully incarcerated.”

Cure was arrested even though two eyewitnesses at a 2003 armed robbery at a Walgreens in Dania Beach picked out different men in a lineup, according to the conviction review unit’s memorandum. Cure was accused on the say-so of a Broward County deputy, now deceased, who said she saw him in the area. His alibi was deemed unacceptable, despite an ATM bank receipt and his supervisor’s testimony about his arrival at work that would have left him no time to commit the robbery with a handgun.

Cure was sentenced to life in prison in a 2004 second trial, held after the first trial ended with the jury unable to reach a decision in his case. Cure appealed his case to the Fourth District Court of Appeals, which upheld his conviction, according to The Innocence Project of Florida, which took up his case. Court documents show his conviction was vacated in December 2020.

Broward County State Attorney Harold Pryor had been an advocate for the relief claim.

“There are unfortunately many other individuals similarly situated who don’t get the opportunity to have their cases overturned or to be compensated,” Gottlieb said. “I applaud the Broward State Attorney’s Office, and in particular the convictions review unit for their hard work, and insight for individuals, like Mr. Cure, to help them get the relief they deserve when they have been unjustly punished.”

Cure is also entitled to 120 hours of tuition and fees at any Florida college and university, according to the legislation.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    June 9, 2023 at 1:18 pm

    Meanwhile, Rhonda is adding more eligibility for death penalty cases while simultaneously reducing the number of jurors from 12 to 8 required for sentencing someone to death.

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