In 1980, Colin Warner was just 18 and living in a neighbourhood called Crown Heights in Brooklyn, New York.
He was a Trinidadian immigrant with dreadlocked hair and a core group of good, close, childhood friends around him.
On April 10, and on an otherwise average spring night, the cops came knocking. Arrested and snatched from the streets, his freedom was stolen, he was put behind bars. He wouldn’t see the outside world for another 21 years.
Murder, they told him. He had, apparently, shot 16-year-old Mario Hamilton dead. Colin Warner did not know who Mario Hamilton was. The police, however, did not believe this.
In the same neighbourhood, on that same April 10 spring day, Mario Hamilton’s brother Martell was standing outside his high school, when a young kid called Thomas Charlemagne rode up to him on his bike.
Charlemagne was just 14 – a young, eager-to-please, impressionable kid – who delivered Martell the news. His brother Mario had been shot, and he knew this, because he had seen the whole thing.
He actually hadn’t, but in the moment, he lied.
"I think he only told me that so that maybe trying to make me feel better. And trying to think that he's being helpful. But he only, instead of being helpful, ended up creating a disaster," Martell told This American Life in 2005.
It was a lie that would spiral with a kind of domino effect that would ruin lives, embroil innocent parties and take 21 years to fix.
Immediately, Martell Hamilton and Charlemagne were taken to the local police station. 14-year-old Charlemagne, having once lied about seeing the crime unfold, was taken into an interview room and grilled for hours. There was no adult around, no guardian in the room. Photo after photo was placed on a table in front of him, until time stretched too long and the lie grew too deep to crawl out of. He pointed to a photo. It was a photo of Colin Warner.
Despite being across town when the murder took place - and with an alibi to prove this - Colin Warner was arrested and charged with murder.
After Warner's arrest, word on the street was that another kid by the name of Norman Simmonds had pulled the trigger. On the day of the shooting, he told Martell he had intentions of killing young Mario. Six months after receiving this information, Simmonds was arrested. A year and a half after this, a trial finally began, with both Simmonds and Warner on trial for murder, despite both teens not knowing the other.