For 20 years, Richard Rosario has been behind bars for the murder of Jorge Collazo, even though he was eight states away the night the killing took place.
In June 1996, Rosario was picked out of a suspect lineup compiled by the police after Collazo’s murder. However, officers failed to disclose that during the entire month of June, Rosario was living with his friends in Florida 1,063 miles away.
When Rosario discovered he was a prime suspect in the case, he travelled back to the Bronx to talk with the police. He provided them with a list of 13 witnesses, including two Florida police officers who could provide an alibi for his location at the time of the murder.
Despite this evidence, Rosario’s attorney didn’t interview any of the witnesses. Prosecutors admitted Rosario’s attorney made mistakes saying, “We concede that the defendant did not receive effective counsel.”
Shortly after being released, Rosario told the court, “I’ve been in prison for twenty years for a crime I didn’t commit. My family didn’t deserve this, I didn’t deserve this, nor the victim’s family or the victim.”
Rosario praised both his lawyers, who work for the Exoneration Initiative that specializes in these types of cases. One of his lawyers, Rebecca Freedman told PIX11 News, “Richard is ecstatic to be free, but he’s still angry at the wrongs that were done to him by the justice system. And I think he wants full vindication. He wants a declaration of his actual innocence and he deserves one.”
Despite receiving cheers for re-opening this case, the district attorney drew criticism over the lingering legal proceedings. Rosario has another hearing on June 24th. This session may grant him the exoneration he has been waiting for 20 years.