Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the Tompkins County Court on Monday to call for the release of Ithaca resident Nagee Green, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2017 for fatally stabbing Ithaca College student Anthony Nazaire on Cornell’s campus.
The rally was a culmination of efforts by Green’s family, who have been researching and advocating for Green while he was on trial and after he was sentenced. Currently, Green’s family is seeking an appeal for the sentence.
“As you all know now, my son is locked up for crimes he did not commit,” Tamara Lane, Green’s mother, told the crowd. “We are here to request justice from the Ithaca court and to make you all aware of the injustice we have all faced.”
Green’s family, along with other Tompkins County residents, recently formed the Free Nagee Green Committee to call for County Court Judge John C. Rowley ’82 to acquit Green.
On Aug. 28, 2016, at approximately 1:57 a.m., Cornell University Police Department officers found Nazaire and his friend, Raheim Williams, stabbed in front of Olin Hall, The Sun previously reported. Nazaire had attended a party at Willard Straight Hall hosted by Cornell fraternity Omega Psi Phi during orientation week, shortly before the incident took place. Multiple altercations transpired as students left the hall once the party ended.
Nazaire was then sent to Cayuga Medical Center to be treated for critical injuries, and was later pronounced dead.
Nazaire’s death left the Cornell and Ithaca College communities reeling. Ithaca College and Cornell hosted vigils for Nazaire shortly after his death, and some students told The Sun at the time that the stabbing had made them feel unsafe on campus as the University ramped up its on-campus security.
The Ithaca Police Department launched a homicide investigation after Nazaire’s death, and charged Green for the Ithaca College student’s murder in November 2016. Green was the only publicly named suspect.
During the course of the investigation, some felt questions were left unanswered. Law enforcement did not release a timeline of the investigation and took weeks to publicly identify a suspect.
Green first went to trial in June 2017, eight months later, resulting in a hung jury on the murder charges. Nazaire’s family had advocated for Green to receive life imprisonment for the murder.
Green was ultimately found guilty of second-degree murder in a September 2017 retrial. At the time of this verdict, Van Houten told The Sun that “justice was done.” During the retrial, Van Houten used video evidence of Green saying, “I kill out here,” as he pulled out a knife on the scene, The Ithacan previously reported. The seven witnesses called to testify did not explicitly say they saw Green stab Nazaire.
A forensic scientist also said at the trial that the available DNA evidence on the knife handles did not directly connect to one particular person, The Ithacan said. None of the video footage shown in court showed Green directly attacking Nazaire.
Maureen Lane, Green’s aunt, told The Sun on Jan. 18 that the family did its own investigation into the trial proceedings. Green had authorized his mother to obtain his police file, which Maureen claimed showed a variety of issues and holes in the events preceding the conviction.
“It took us months to actually go through all of the documents and we sat through the court process and we saw a lot of things weren’t being brought to the jury’s attention,” Maureen said. “All of the information that we had seen in the files, none of that was brought to attention.”
Green’s defense attorneys claimed that the investigators involved in the interrogation coerced Green to confess he stabbed Nazaire and Williams, The Sun previously reported in 2017.
At the rally, multiple family members shared anecdotes of Green while protestors sporadically chanted, “no justice, no peace. Free Nagee Green.”
The appeal is still pending. Nazaire’s family did not respond to multiple requests for comment about Green’s appeal attempts from The Sun.