The Richard Rosario Story - Part 1 | Social Justice Matters

Richard Rosario was living part-time in Deltona, Florida, in June 1996 when the 20-year-old learned he was wanted in the Bronx for murder. That month two unknown assailants, one Hispanic and one black, shot 17-year-old Jorge Collazo in the head on Turnbull Avenue. At the time of Collazo’s murder, Rosario was staying with friends in Florida before the birth of his second child. He never knew Collazo, had no physical evidence tying him to the crime, and 13 people supported his alibi. Several of these witnesses included a sheriff’s deputy, Rosario’s pastor and a corrections officer friend — reportedly passed polygraph tests. Despite this, Rosario was found guilty in 1998 of the murder.

Filing suit Monday in Bronx County Supreme Court, Rosario claims that this conviction was the product of witness coercion, suppressed evidence, and a “flimsy case” in which police failed to follow up on alternate leads. Police officers were “under pressure to close the case quickly,” the complaint continues, and “deliberately manipulated witnesses and prosecuted Rosario for the murder despite lacking any reliable evidence of his guilt.” Rosario spent 20-years in prison, separated from his wife and children before he was exonerated. There were 149 people exonerated in the United States in 2015 after being wrongfully convicted of crimes. The tally includes dozens convicted of murder and an increase in people who pleaded guilty or falsely confessed under duress, according to a new report. More than a third of the people exonerated were convicted of murder according to a report released by the National Registry of Exonerations, a project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Northwest University School of Law. All the people exonerated in 2015 were exonerated in more than half of the states in America.  Before being cleared, they served an average of more than 14 years in prison. Five of the people exonerated had been sentenced to death.