Judge orders review of Philadelphia man's murder conviction

Attorneys for Tyree Wallace presented new evidence that alleges a co-defendant has since proclaimed his innocence.

Charles Watson Image
Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Judge orders review of Philadelphia man's murder conviction
Judge orders review of Philadelphia man's murder conviction

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Attorneys for a man who has been incarcerated for 26 years are asking a Pennsylvania judge to consider overturning his conviction.

The judge heard arguments during a status hearing for a Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition from attorneys representing Tyree Wallace, a man who was convicted of murdering Jhon Su Kang, the owner of Salt and Pepper Deli in Philadelphia's Point Breeze neighborhood on October 27, 1997.

Attorneys for Wallace, who was 19 years old at the time of the homicide, presented new evidence that alleges a co-defendant has since proclaimed Wallace's innocence.

Tyree Wallace

His attorneys also alleged a Brady Act violation on behalf of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office. They accused the office of losing six files that would have corroborated their claims that a suspected criminal informant, who testified against Wallace, admitted to giving false testimony at trial.

"Had we found those files, we believe that we would have been able to show that this witness was cooperating with the police, cooperating with the prosecution," said David Perry, who represents Wallace.

Aside from their new argument, Perry said there is no physical evidence of any kind that ties Wallace to the murder.

He said being wrongfully imprisoned for more than two decades has been a hard pill for Wallace to swallow not only because of the injustice, but also because he liked and respected Kang -- someone who Perry said helped Wallace, his family and the community during tough times.

Outside of the courtroom, dozens of people chanted and held signs at a rally where they called for Wallace to be released. One supporter said it was time "for those of us who have not suffered to take a stand."

Taylor Paul was among the group. He said he also served more than 20 years in prison and has developed a friendship with Wallace. The difference between the two, he said, was that he deserved to pay for his crimes. Wallace is a different story.

"Imagine waking up 9,000 days inside of a circumstance, inside of an institution that you don't belong in," Paul said. "That's a reoccurring nightmare, but he found solitude. He's found redemption in his own self-rehabilitation that he did not need because he doesn't deserve to be there."

When asked to comment on the matter, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office said in an email to Action News, "we never comment on PCRA petitions at such a preliminary stage, and it would be inappropriate to do so now. That said, we are proud of our track record of carefully reviewing post-conviction relief claims and of seeking the truth, which in dozens of cases has led us to support relief for people who have been wrongfully convicted (41 exonerations of 40 people to date)."

Perry said he hopes the next 90 days will be productive in making progress toward Wallace's exoneration. However, those familiar with cases such as this one said it could take much longer to resolve.