Keith Stanfield has signed up to play the lead role in director Matt Ruskin’s film based on the true story of the wrongful imprisonment of Colin Warner. Titled “Darker Than Blue,” the project is 1 of 140 that was selected to participate in this year’s Independent Filmmaker Project’s (IFP) esteemed Project Forum at the upcoming IFP Independent Film Week, which will run from September 20-25, 2015 at Lincoln Center in New York City.
The short version of the story goes… after Colin Warner was wrongfully convicted of murder, his best friend Carl King devoted his life to proving his innocence.
The longer version of the story can be found on the University of Michigan’s School of Law “National Registry of Exonerations.” Here’s a piece of it:
“On April 10, 1980, 16-year-old Mario Hamilton was shot in the back of the neck outside of Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, New York. Thomas Charlemagne, 14, saw the shooting and ran to get Hamilton’s 15-year-old brother, Martell. While Mario was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Charlemagne and Martell Hamilton went to the 67th Precinct police station. They were interviewed separately and with no guardian present for six hours. Charlemagne told police that he saw 18-year-old Colin Warner, a native of Trinidad from Crown Heights, step out of a car and shoot Mario, get back in a car driven by 15-year-old Norman Simmonds and leave the scene. The following day, police spoke with Martell Hamilton and showed him a photo lineup, but he did not identify anyone. He told detectives that two days earlier Simmonds had threatened to kill his brother. A detective then placed a photo of Warner alone in front of Martell and Martell said he may have seen him near the scene of the crime. Warner was arrested that afternoon. He was indicted on May, 12, 1980 on charges of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Simmons was arrested in October 1980 and charged with murder. Warner and Simmonds went on trial in March 1982. The trial had been delayed because Charlemagne disappeared. He was arrested on a charge of robbing a restaurant in February 1982 and so was available to testify. At trial, Charlemagne testified that Mario Hamilton was killed by Simmonds in a drive-by shooting—deviating from his earlier claim that Warner was the gunman who walked up and killed Hamilton. The trial ended in a hung jury and a mistrial was declared. Warner and Simmonds were tried again in May 1982 and were convicted. Simmonds, a juvenile at the time of the murder, received 9 years to life. Warner was sentenced to 15 years to life.”
Read the rest here.
In the end, after the Kings County District Attorney’s Office conducted a reinvestigation, which included polygraph tests of witnesses, after they were led to believe that some of the evidence they received may have been false, Colin Warner was released in 2001, after serving a lengthy sentence. In 2002, he filed a civil wrongful conviction lawsuit that was settled for $2.7 million.
Nnamdi Asomugha has signed up to play Carl King in Ruskin’s film adaptation of the story. If Nnamdi’s name isn’t familiar, he’s the former NFL cornerback initially drafted by the Oakland Raiders, who went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers, before retiring in 2013. He also happens to be Kerry Washington’s husband, and an actor in his own right, likely most remembered for his appearance in “Friday Night Lights,” in 2009.
Lila Yacoub (“Rosewater,” “Moonrise Kingdom”) will produce the film, which hails from Black Maple Films and iAm21 Entertainment.
Principal photographer is set to begin September 9 in New York City.
For the upcoming IFP Project Forum, the project has been selected to participate in the No Borders International Co-Production Market – the premiere U.S. forum for buyers, sales agents and financiers to meet with established producers who have a strong track record for producing films in the international marketplace.