Fernando Bermudez

New York County, New York
Date of Crime:  August 4, 1991

Fernando Bermudez was convicted in 1992 of the murder of 16-year-old Raymond Blount. Prior to the murder Blount had punched another teen named Efrain Lopez, allegedly after Lopez looked at him the wrong way. This incident occurred in the Marc Ballroom, a Greenwich Village nightclub on Union Square West. Lopez then approached an acquaintance in the club and told him what had happened. Later, at 3 a.m., outside the club, Lopez and his friends encountered Blount and his friends. As the two groups were getting ready to fight, Lopez's acquaintance asked him point out the puncher. After Lopez pointed to Blount, the acquaintance ran up and fired a bullet into him, severing an artery. Blount died in a hospital later that morning.

Police showed several of Blount's friends mug shots of young Latino men with arrest records. Bermudez's photo caught the eye of one, and after conferring with three others, all four agreed Bermudez resembled the gunman. The next day police questioned Lopez and he eventually told them the gunman was named Lou but was called Wool Lou because he sold “wools,” slang for crack cocaine. However, when shown a photo array, Lopez identified Bermudez as the gunman.

Bermudez said he did not know the victim, he had no motive to shoot him, and he was elsewhere with friends at the time of the shooting. However, Lopez and the four other witnesses identified him as the gunman at trial. Lopez called Bermudez, “Wool Lou,” said he went to Public School 84 with him, knew him to be Puerto Rican, and said Lou hung out near his grandmother's building on West 92nd St. Bermudez had never been called Wool Lou, never went to P.S. 84, was of Dominican descent, and lived on 204th St., six miles from Lopez's neighborhood.

There was a man named Wool Lou who lived in Lopez's neighborhood on West 91st St. and had a criminal record though not for dealing drugs. His name was Luis Muñoz and his street alias of Wool Lou was in the Police Department's files. Muñoz's facial features closely matched those of Bermudez. Police never interviewed Muñoz or anyone else from the 92nd St. schoolyard where Lopez and Muñoz hung out.

Witnesses had said the gunman was a light-skinned Hispanic, 5' 11" tall and weighed 165 lbs. Bermudez was dark, 6'1" tall, and weighed 205 lbs. A year after Bermudez's conviction, the five witnesses against him recanted their identification in sworn statements and said their testimony had been manipulated by police and prosecutors. During Bermudez's appeals, courts repeatedly rejected the five witnesses' recantations as incredible, while selectively maintaining the same witnesses were credible in regard to their trial testimony. However, in 2009, a Manhattan judge overturned Bermudez's conviction and dismissed charges against him. The judge found that no credible evidence connected Bermudez to the homicide of Blount.  [4/10]


Reference:  New York Times

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Manhattan-Bronx Cases