New York settles wrongful conviction suit for record $4.75 million

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York man who spent 18 years in prison for a murder he did not commit has reached a $4.75 million wrongful conviction settlement with the state, his attorney said on Tuesday. A U.S. federal judge in 2009 found Fernando Bermudez was wrongly convicted of fatally shooting 16-year-old Raymond Blount during a fight in Manhattan's Greenwich Village neighborhood in 1991. Bermudez later sued the state and city, seeking monetary damages. The case against the city is still pending, according to his lawyer, Michael Lamonsoff. "My family and I are thankful that we have finally reached a settlement," Bermudez, 45, said in a statement released by Lamonsoff. "Of course, the settlement will never erase the injustice that I experienced as an innocent man in prison." The state reached a deal with Bermudez in November, but the terms of the settlement were not made public at that time. Melissa Grace, a spokeswoman for state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said Schneiderman "is committed to ensuring that those who are wrongfully convicted are compensated in accordance with the law." Lamonsoff said this was the largest wrongful conviction settlement in the state, exceeding prior settlements of $4.25 million and $3.36 million. Lamonsoff said Bermudez, who has a wife and children, has had a difficult time adjusting to life after prison due to the mental and physical anguish he experienced while incarcerated. Bermudez lectures internationally about death penalty issues for the Innocence Project, a group that works to exonerate wrongfully convicted people. (Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Scott Malone and Will Dunham)