After 20 years behind bars, EXI client Richard Rosario was released on March 23, 2016, and his conviction was vacated. Richard turned himself into authorities in 1996, and told police the names, addresses and phone numbers of 13 people who could confirm that he was more than a thousand miles away in Florida when the murder occurred in the Bronx. No police or prosecutor ever checked into his alibi, and his trial lawyer bungled his defense, calling only 2 alibi witnesses at trial. Years later, attorneys from Morrison Foerster, the Legal Aid Society and NAACP LDF brought forward 7 additional witnesses, but the Bronx DA’s office fought their efforts tooth and nail all the way to the US Supreme Court. As a last resort, they brought Richard’s case to EXI which – for the next five years – conducted a reinvestigation; filed two lawsuits against the NYPD under the Freedom of Information Law; and brought a motion to exonerate Richard based on actual innocence, newly discovered evidence, police and prosecutorial misconduct, and ineffective assistance of counsel. When that motion was denied, EXI persuaded an appellate court to reconsider his case. Richard’s appeal was pending when EXI attorneys met with incoming Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark who, unlike her predecessor, agreed to reinvestigate the case. Up against the appellate deadline, District Attorney Clark consented to vacate Richard’s conviction and release him. It was the first high-profile wrongful conviction case in which the new District Attorney took action. Click here to read more about Richard’s release.
The news of Richard’s release came just days before the release of Dateline NBC Dan Slepian’s digital documentary series Conviction, which follows Slepian’s two year investigation into Richard’s case, including his release. Watch all 11 episodes of Conviction to see Richard’s story.
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