To pay and advocate for the legal defense/appeal of citizens who are wrongfully incarcerated.
The Paul Cortez Defense Fund, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation formed under the laws of the State of New York to help fight the wrongful incarceration of Paul Cortez.
On November 27th, 2005 a young, aspiring dancer was found murdered in her apartment in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, one of the wealthiest and most prestigious neighborhoods in the world. With the media hungry to exploit a high profile tragedy, the New York Post and other tabloid media obsessed about and fabricated details of the murder, despite a lack of any relevant witnesses, surveillance videos, DNA, or other material evidence. Amidst a media frenzy and worldwide press, the police were under tremendous scrutiny and pressure to produce the killer. Three weeks following the victim’s death, the police charged Paul Cortez, the victim’s boyfriend, with murder, based on the following limited circumstantial evidence:
A pre-existing fingerprint was found covered with blood at the crime scene. The print, however, did NOT appear until the policed applied chemicals to the entire wall of the victim’s apartment on the third sweep. Nevertheless, the prosecutor incorrectly characterized the partial print as a “bloody fingerprint” left by Paul Cortez.
Paul’s cell phone records placed him in the general vicinity at the time of the murder. However, this is consistent with Paul’s past cell phone records, which show that he worked, socialized and spent the majority of his time within a few block radius of the victim’s apartment on the Upper East Side.
Taken out of context, the prosecutors took a few lines from thousands of love poems, comic book sketches and deeply
emotional prose found in Paul’s 10+ years of personal journal to incorrectly paint a portrait of “violent thoughts.” At trial, an acquaintance of Paul’s perjured himself stating that Paul wore a specific type of Skecher boot that matched a footprint at the murder scene. This testimony comes in direct contradiction to a statement he made six months earlier when he told CBS’s 48 Hour Mystery that he had absolutely no recollection of Paul’s attire that evening.
Paul Cortez was represented by two low-budget attorneys who were held in contempt of court for missing the first three days of trial. After the trial, it was discovered that Paul’s attorney was being prosecuted on drug smuggling charges by the same District Attorney who was prosecuting Paul.
Inexplicably, Paul’s attorneys did not perform any DNA testing on numerous pieces of evidence, call a single forensic expert or hire a private investigator to explore the inconsistencies and questions in order to construct a basic and standard defense for Paul. A prime example being that despite the fact that Paul has dark brown hair and the murder victim had brown hair as well, Paul’s attorneys did not request a DNA analysis on the blond hairs found between her fingers.
Paul Cortez was sentenced to 25 years to life even though the prosecution produced no physical evidence, murder weapon, witnesses, or other concrete evidence. He has now served three years for a crime he did not commit.
Paul's last chances at justice rest on filing an appeal with the New York State Court of Appeals. There is, however, a time limit on that possibility of appealing the verdict. Paul is locked in a 6 X 8 foot jail with no resources. His life is in our hands.
1. Please visit www.freepaulcortez.org for details