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A Queens man who spent more than half a decade locked up at Rikers Island was officially declared off the hook for murder charges Wednesday, the Daily News has learned.
Terrel Banks, 26, was arrested months after his 20th birthday for the October 2008 fatal shooting of 21-year-old Timothy Smith in Fresh Meadows.
Banks lingered behind bars and faced trial three times — all of which ended in mistrials.
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“It’s been a long time,” Banks told The News Wednesday. “Knowing that you’re an innocent man and that you were wrongfully (accused) to be out free now after all the years . . . It’s a huge relief.”
After new information emerged in the case, prosecutors released Banks in January, and formally dismissed his second-degree murder charge Wednesday.
Judge Gregory Lasak suggested that Banks, “thank the district attorneys for dismissing the charges.”
“You persevered through a very tough time — be proud of yourself. . . . You got a second chance at life,” Lasak added.
The case against Banks had been rocky from the start as the prosecution’s star witness changed her testimony that she saw Banks shoot Smith before the first trial in 2010.
They earned Lasak’s approval to use the woman’s grand jury testimony identifying Banks in subsequent trials.
Banks’ third and final trial ended in March 2014 with a hung jury.

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