Boston Globe
 September 14, 2000

 Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff 

 At the request of prosecutors who admitted that a man was wrongly 
 imprisoned "based on what has turned out to be good-faith mistaken 
 eyewitness identification," a Superior Court judge yesterday threw out the 
 first-degree murder conviction against Marlon Passley, who spent four 
 years in jail for a killing he didn't commit.

 Passley, 28, was released from prison in April 1999 after prosecutors said 
 new information indicated he was not the man who fatally shot Tennyson 
 Drakes, 18, on a Mattapan street in 1995. Passley, who was 23 when he was 
 convicted, has remained free on personal recognizance since then.

 Passley's release occurred less than three months after the state's 
 highest court affirmed his conviction and ruled that he should remain 
 imprisoned for the rest of his life.

 "I'm glad it's all over, so I can get on with my life and be with my 
 family and friends," said Passley, who was accompanied in court yesterday 
 by his mother, several relatives, and his girlfriend.

 Speaking in a courthouse corridor yesterday, Passley, who is living in 
 Cambridge, said he was "upset" but not bitter that he spent four years in 
 jail. "You can't dwell on the past. You have to just move on," he said.

 "I just believed in God, and I knew that one day I'd be free."

 The district attorney's office reopened Passley's case, and reexamined the 
 testimony against him, after learning of "certain facts and certain 
 circumstances" that appeared to clear him of the murder, Suffolk 
 prosecutor David Meier said yesterday.

 During a hearing yesterday, Meier asked Superior Court Judge Margaret 
 Hinkle to take the "extraordinary action" of vacating Passley's 
 conviction. "I can state unequivocally, based on new evidence and credible 
 facts, that Mr. Passley did not commit the crimes for which he was 
 convicted," Meier said.

 Meier, the county's chief homicide prosecutor, also filed paperwork 
 indicating that the district attorney's office does not intend to retry 
 the case. But the investigation into the shooting continues, and there is 
 "the very real possibility in the very near future" that other suspects 
 will be charged, Meier said.

 Passley's exoneration marks the second time in the past 18 months that the 
 office of Suffolk District Attorney Ralph C. Martin II has freed a 
 convicted murderer after new evidence revealed that the wrong man had been 
 found guilty on faulty eyewitness testimony.

 Donnell Johnson walked free from prison in November after serving about 
 five years for the fatal shooting of 9-year-old Jermaine Goffigan, who was 
 struck by gang crossfire as he counted Halloween candy in 1994. Johnson 
 was formally cleared in March.

 A third man, Neil J. Miller, was released four months ago after spending 
 10 years in jail. His freedom came as a result of DNA testing.

 Passley's attorney, Mark Horrigan, who represented him at trial, praised 
 prosecutors for taking a second look at Passley's conviction when new 
 information warranted it.

 "They certainly weren't compelled to do it," Horrigan said. "But they had 
 the courage and integrity to admit that this was a wrongful conviction, 
 and they're doing the right thing."

 Passley was found guilty of the August 1995 slaying of Drakes, 18, of 
 Dorchester, who died when a passenger on a motorcycle opened fire on him 
 and six others in Mattapan. Two other men were hit; one was paralyzed by 
 his injuries.

 Four witnesses identified Passley as the gunman, but nine witnesses 
 testified that Passley was attending a cousin's graduation ceremony at 
 Wellesley College at the time of the shooting.