Richard Rosario has spent the last 20 years in prison for the 1996 shooting of 17-year-old Jorge Collazo. Rosario is now a free man.
Why? Because maybe he didn’t do it. Rosario claims he was visiting friends in Florida back when he was accused of fatally shooting Collazo in the Bronx on June 19, 1996.
The now-40-year-old Rosario claims that he named at least 13 alibi witnesses who can attest to him being over a thousand miles away from the crime scene. Rosario is now free because both his lawyers and prosecutors agree that the former defense lawyers on the case didn't do enough to locate Rosario's witnesses.
According to case records, police did not contact more than a dozen people whom Rosario claimed had seen him in Deltona, Florida, where he was staying with friends. The friends in question who hosted Rosario even testified to his whereabouts at the trial. But prosecutors urged jurors to discount their testimony because they were friends of the defendant.
After that, Rosario's court appointed attorneys did little to reach any of the other alibi witnesses. Rosario is not out of the woods yet. Bronx district attorney Darcel Clark recommended Rosario's conviction be dismissed, but not the charges themselves. Clark has called for a reinvestigation of the 1996 shooting. Upon his release, Rosario released a statement, saying:
“I've been in prison for 20 years for a crime I didn't commit... my family didn't deserve this. I didn't deserve this, and nor did the family of the victim."
Despite the fact that no forensic or physical evidence was ever found linking Rosario to the crime, the family of Jorge Collazo still believe Rosario is guilty. The victim's sister said, ”All we want is the truth, and it is time that Richard give up the cries of innocence and confess."
Rosario walked out of court on Wednesday with his wife and their two children.
The reinvestigation is still pending.
(Photo: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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