When John Brookins arrived at Sheila Ginsberg's apartment on 20 December 1990 he saw her daughter Sharon standing over her - with a pair of scissors which she thrust into her mother's chest. Sharon fled the scene when she saw John.
A witness saw Sharon leaving the apartment with a wad of money in her hand. Another man who was questioned by police told them that Sharon Ginsberg came to his apartment the night of the murder to change her clothes. He also found Sharon's glove with blood stains under the seat of his car. The glove was never sent to be tested for DNA by the investigating police officers.
Sharon was a drug addict who needed money. She had been violent towards her mother and other people before.
John Brookins panicked when he saw his friend murdered. He knew that being a Black man nobody would believe his story. He left his friend's apartment without calling the police.
Months later, when Sharon Ginsberg became a suspect in the murder case she claimed that she saw John Brookins killing her mother. Despite all of the evidence pointing to her as the murderer and the witness seeing her leaving her mother's apartment with cash in her hand it was John Brookins who was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole because it was a White person who had been killed and it was a White person who testified against a Black man.
John Brookins has been in jail for 28 years for a crime he did not commit.