Free Arthur Canteen: Wrongfully Convicted at age 27 seeking clemency after 25yrs in prison

Free Arthur Canteen: Wrongfully Convicted at age 27 seeking clemency after 25yrs in prison

October 5, 2022
Signatures: 1,719Next Goal: 2,500
Support now

Why this petition matters

On November 1, 2022, Arthur Canteen filed a clemency application with Governor Kathy Hochul. Arthur needs your help. Please continue to sign and share his petition to sustain the energy around his campaign for freedom. 

Arthur is currently serving a death by incarceration sentence of 45 to life for a crime he did not commit. Arthur was offered a plea deal of 22 to life, making this sentence all the more difficult to justify, especially given the well documented trial discrepancies, lack of evidence to substantiate a conviction, and lack of fairness that occurred during his prosecution. His harsh and unfair sentence is a direct result of a “trial tax” that is often used against individuals who refuse to take a plea and instead take their case to court. When individuals, like Arthur, exercise their rights, they get the book thrown at them with any imaginable charge to ensure that the punishment is harsh and severe. (full story below)

Prison conditions, including the food and water, have compromised the quality of Arthur’s health. A few years ago, Arthur developed an H. Pylori infection. H. Pylori is a bacteria that grows in the digestive tract and tends to attack the stomach lining. By the time doctors treated the infection, Arthur was already feeling severe pain and the adverse aftereffects of the bacteria. He was hospitalized in 2018 and 2019, but his health has not been properly attended to. To date, Arthur has not received proper medical treatment despite being persistent in his requests and spends a lot of his days in chronic, agonizing pain. There have been many times that he has gone without food because his stomach problems prevent him from eating many of the meals served.

Arthur’s roots run deeply within his community. He has several close friends and family members who are dedicated to seeing him regain his freedom, which he unquestionably deserves, and to see him prosper. He has a close relationship with his daughter,  and has just started to develop a relationship with his grandchildren. Arthur speaks extensively about how difficult it has been to be a father behind prison walls. Upon release, he hopes to make up for lost time with his daughter and ensure that he is an active participant in his grandchildren’s lives. He is still in close contact with many of his childhood friends. Arthur’s biggest connections are his mother, and his girlfriend who he has known for over 25 years, and who intends on marrying. They reconnected a few years ago and she has been with Arthur every step of the way. Upon release, Arthur plans on living with his wife, who is eagerly awaiting his arrival. 

How You can Help

Arthur Canteen's family and supporters have set up this petition to gather signatures to advocate for his clemency. Please add your name (and address if you live in New York) to call for his release. If there is a specific way you think you can help, please reach out to: 

*Please note: Including your address with your name - especially authentic New York State Addresses - is a HUGE help. Because hearing from her own state residents will carry even more weight for Governor Hochul, it will boost Arthur's chances of freedom. 


What Went Wrong

In the early morning hours of December 13, 1997, Neil Mattox was tragically killed by a gunshot wound while he was working as a doorman for an unlicensed liquor lounge located on Prospect Avenue in the Bronx - the CC Lounge. The State’s theory was that Arthur had been denied access to the lounge the week prior, and in an act of revenge he opened fire in the club when he was again denied entry. There was no physical evidence tying Arthur to the shooting nor was the murder weapon ever located.

Arthur was standing near Crotona Park across the street from the CC Lounge with a group of people. When the shots rang out, he ran, as did everyone else. When things quieted down he walked back towards the CC Lounge. The police had begun arriving so he turned around to walk towards his mother’s apartment. Shortly thereafter, Arthur heard police screaming for him to get on the ground with their guns drawn. They surrounded him, handcuffed him, and, while he was handcuffed and surrounded by several officers, brought over an employee from the lounge who said Arthur was the shooter. At trial, out of all the individuals that testified, no one identified seeing Arthur as the shooter within the club.

Arthur was physically abused by police officers during his interrogation. He was held for close to 36 hours without food or sleep until he agreed to make a confession tape. The “confession” that was recorded was a fabricated tale that the prosecutor did not even present to be an accurate portrayal of what happened that evening.

To explain away how someone arrested moments after a shooting did not have a gun, the State presented at trial that, while the chaos of the shooting was happening, his then girlfriend appeared on the street and took the gun. His girlfriend, 25, was two months pregnant at the time with her third child. Two weeks after giving birth and nearly seven months after the shooting, police arrested his girlfriend and charged her with Hindering Prosecution and Possession of a Firearm, threatening her with substantial jail time if she did not testify. The gun was never found. Given the impossibility of the choice she had to make - have her children taken away and serve a prison term or testify - Arthur remained with her for years following the trial as he understood the difficult situation she was in. Arthur maintains a close relationship with their daughter who has never had the opportunity to know her father as a free man. His then girlfriend gave a very short testimony, where she stated “she took the gun,” and provided no details as to how she knew he was there, or where the gun went.

Arthur testified on his own behalf at trial. His attorney, a court appointed 18-b attorney, did not help him prepare for his testimony. The attorney had been assaulted by a previous client and refused to meet alone with any of his clients after this incident. Arthur was not provided effective assistance of counsel.

The record reflects that there was an issue of racial bias in the jury. One juror informed the judge, despite instructions not to talk to each other, that they had all had a conversation that a Black man in the courtroom was making them uncomfortable. Upon questioning, it was found that the individual did not do anything of note - they were just uncomfortable with how he looked and said that they thought he was “casing” the jury. The individual that they were speaking of was Arthur’s friend, a young Black man, who was there to support him. The judge refused to dismiss the juror who initiated the conversation.

Throughout his 25 year incarceration, Arthur has maintained his innocence. While incarcerated, he has taught himself the law and has tirelessly fought for his freedom. He has filed countless appeals raising nearly 40 independent legal claims. The State has made a motion to prohibit Arthur from filing any further appeals without first obtaining court approval. This is not the behavior of a guilty man. 


Support now
Signatures: 1,719Next Goal: 2,500
Support now