Martin Tankleff won $3.375 Million in a lawsuit against the state of New York for being wrongfully convicted of his parents’ murder in 1990.
On September 7, 1988, at the age of 17, Tankleff awoke to find his father bleeding profusely from the neck. While waiting for the authorities to arrive, he discovered that his mother had been mortally wounded. She had been stabbed to death.
Police arrested Tankleff for the crime after four hours of questioning. Tankleff originally said he had found his parents when he woke up and he had no idea what had happened to them. After being told his father had come out of his coma and said that his son had been responsible for the attack, Martin confessed to the crime. Seymour Tankleff never regained consciousness, though. He died one month after the attack. Martin Tankleff never signed a statement, and he later recanted his confession. Police never considered any other suspects.
Police overlooked another suspect who could have committed the crime. Martin Tankleff had suggested to police, after finding his parents, that Jerry Steuerman, Seymour Tankleff’s business partner, could have been responsible for the murders. He had a motive. He owed Seymour $550,000, which he was to start repaying soon. He had also been the last person to see the couple alive when he left a card game a few hours before the crime was discovered.
Mr. Steuerman faked his own death a week after the attacks. He was discovered in Long Beach, California, in a motel, under an alias. He had gone to great lengths to change his appearance. He also admitted to staging his death. Yet, the police never considered him a suspect.
In October of 2003, Jay Salpeter, an investigator that the defense had hired, found Glenn Harris by checking the records of people who were associated with others suspected of involvement with the Tankleff murders. Mr. Harris stated that he had been the getaway driver for two men that he had driven to the home of the Tankleff’s on the night they had been attacked.
Martin Tankleff’s conviction was overturned in 2007 and the charges against him were dropped in 2008. In 2009, Tankleff filed a lawsuit against the county and against certain investigators, in federal court, on accusations of coercing false confessions. He also filed a lawsuit against the state of New York, in the state court, for false imprisonment.
Attorney Patrick Donovan is a criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts. Attorney Donovan is a former prosecutor that has appeared in over fifty courts in Massachusetts.