400-Pound Criminal Has Conviction Overturned Because of Slim Lineup

Obese crook gets conviction overturned because of skinny guys in the lineup.

Aug. 26, 2011— -- A 400-pound man had his robbery convction overturned in a hefty court ruling because he was easily picked out of police line-up filled with smaller men.

An appellate court in New York tossed Eric Kenley's conviction and 15-year prison sentence on Thursday.

Kenley was convicted of driving the getaway car in two robberies on the same day in Manhattan in 2007.

Obese Crook Gets Criminal Sentence Overturned

The extra large defendant, who has already served 24 years for a 1981 murder conviction, had been described by witnesses of the daylight robberies as "a huge, big, fat, black guy," "a real big, real huge black guy," and "very heavy-set [and] large," the Appellate Division ruling stated.

The ruling cites that the hefty ex-con was the only participant in the lineup of men who fit those descriptions and therefore had been picked out unfairly.

A review of the lineup photograph by the court revealed that "although the fillers were large men, there was a very noticeable weight difference between defendant and the fillers. While the lineup participants were seated, and this can sometimes satisfactorily minimize differences in weight, it is clear from the photo that there was a marked difference between defendant and the fillers," the court wrote.

"Lineups can't be setups," said Dan Abrams, legal analyst, told ABC News.com. "When there is a description of the robber, there must be an effort made to present pictures of numerous people who broadly fit the description."

The appellate court said it wasn't trying to suggest that overweight people be purposely picked for use in criminal lineups. "We do not mean to suggest that the police are obligated to find grossly overweight fillers when dealing with the situation presented here, and we recognize the practical difficulties that would be involved in doing so."

"Instead, this situation would call for the use of some kind of covering to conceal the weight difference."

Skinny Criminal Lineup Leads to "Unfair" Prison Sentence

The appellate ruling also states there may be a certain amount of doubt with regards to the testimony of the witnesses of Kenley' s crime and now he will now face a retrial, one that won't allow lineup evidence.

"An appellate court will tend to be reluctant to overturn a conviction, but when the authorities make an error that a court concludes may have fundamentally impacted the jury's verdict, it's not that surprising that a new trial is ordered," Abrams said.

Stanley Neustadter, the heavyweight's attorney, did not return ABC News requests for comment.

No court date for Kenley has been set.