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Parolee pickets in bid to clear name in slaying Denies he and 2 friends killed man in 1976, cites Capozzi case as example

Lifetime parolee John H. Walker Jr. and dozens of his supporters completed a week of picketing Friday in his continuing effort to clear his name and those of two friends convicted of a 1976 murder.

"I just hope for the same concern they showed Anthony J. Capozzi," Walker, 47, said as he and supporters -- including Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant -- picketed in front of Erie County Hall, site of the area's chief courthouse. They also took their protest to City Hall.

Capozzi was freed this week after spending 22 years in prison for two rapes authorities now think were committed by alleged Bike Path Killer Altemio Sanchez.

Walker and Darryl A. Boyd each served nearly 17 years in prison, followed by five years in a work-release program, for the killing of William Crawford on Fillmore Avenue in January 1976.

The third convicted man, Darryn Gibson, remains in prison. All have insisted they were innocent.

A fourth suspect was acquitted, and his attorney at that time, current City Court Judge James A. W. McLeod, has said he's convinced all four men were innocent.

McLeod has said Buffalo police work, including crime-scene photos, shows conclusively that one person, not four, beat Crawford and that other physical evidence also indicates the four men did not commit the murder.

Grant said Walker's supporters last week mailed to Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark a package of material supporting Walker's claims of innocence and submitted the same material to Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer's Buffalo representatives.

She said if neither Clark nor the governor acts to overturn the murder convictions, she may spearhead an effort to get federal authorities to look into the case.

Grant, D-Buffalo, and Walker said they also may resume their vigils next week.

Walker now lives on a disability pension and is legally barred from leaving Buffalo without permission because of his lifetime parole.

He said he wants Clark to set up the same type of law enforcement task force that played a major role in getting Capozzi cleared.

Clark could not be reached to comment Friday.

On Tuesday, Capozzi, 50, was reunited with his elderly parents and his siblings after 22 years in prison.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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