September 14, 2000 AFTER SERVING 4 YEARS, MAN IS EXONERATED IN '95 SLAYING Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff At the request of prosecutors who admitted that a man was wrongly imprisoned "based on what has turned out to be good-faith mistaken eyewitness identification," a Superior Court judge yesterday threw out the first-degree murder conviction against Marlon Passley, who spent four years in jail for a killing he didn't commit. Passley, 28, was released from prison in April 1999 after prosecutors said new information indicated he was not the man who fatally shot Tennyson Drakes, 18, on a Mattapan street in 1995. Passley, who was 23 when he was convicted, has remained free on personal recognizance since then. Passley's release occurred less than three months after the state's highest court affirmed his conviction and ruled that he should remain imprisoned for the rest of his life. "I'm glad it's all over, so I can get on with my life and be with my family and friends," said Passley, who was accompanied in court yesterday by his mother, several relatives, and his girlfriend. Speaking in a courthouse corridor yesterday, Passley, who is living in Cambridge, said he was "upset" but not bitter that he spent four years in jail. "You can't dwell on the past. You have to just move on," he said. "I just believed in God, and I knew that one day I'd be free." The district attorney's office reopened Passley's case, and reexamined the testimony against him, after learning of "certain facts and certain circumstances" that appeared to clear him of the murder, Suffolk prosecutor David Meier said yesterday. During a hearing yesterday, Meier asked Superior Court Judge Margaret Hinkle to take the "extraordinary action" of vacating Passley's conviction. "I can state unequivocally, based on new evidence and credible facts, that Mr. Passley did not commit the crimes for which he was convicted," Meier said. Meier, the county's chief homicide prosecutor, also filed paperwork indicating that the district attorney's office does not intend to retry the case. But the investigation into the shooting continues, and there is "the very real possibility in the very near future" that other suspects will be charged, Meier said. Passley's exoneration marks the second time in the past 18 months that the office of Suffolk District Attorney Ralph C. Martin II has freed a convicted murderer after new evidence revealed that the wrong man had been found guilty on faulty eyewitness testimony. Donnell Johnson walked free from prison in November after serving about five years for the fatal shooting of 9-year-old Jermaine Goffigan, who was struck by gang crossfire as he counted Halloween candy in 1994. Johnson was formally cleared in March. A third man, Neil J. Miller, was released four months ago after spending 10 years in jail. His freedom came as a result of DNA testing. Passley's attorney, Mark Horrigan, who represented him at trial, praised prosecutors for taking a second look at Passley's conviction when new information warranted it. "They certainly weren't compelled to do it," Horrigan said. "But they had the courage and integrity to admit that this was a wrongful conviction, and they're doing the right thing." Passley was found guilty of the August 1995 slaying of Drakes, 18, of Dorchester, who died when a passenger on a motorcycle opened fire on him and six others in Mattapan. Two other men were hit; one was paralyzed by his injuries. Four witnesses identified Passley as the gunman, but nine witnesses testified that Passley was attending a cousin's graduation ceremony at Wellesley College at the time of the shooting.