A judge on Tuesday dismissed the conviction of a Cuban national wrongly accused of a 1982 rape but told him he would have to stay behind bars until immigration officials sort out his legal status.
Orlando Bosquete, 52, expressed frustration at his extended incarceration but said he was glad that DNA evidence had proved he was innocent.
“It is very important to me to forgive because I have to start a new life,” Bosquete said after Tuesday’s hearing.
He said he knows exactly what he wants to do when he’s released: “I want to go fishing,” he said.
Circuit Judge Richard G. Payne said that while the DNA evidence proves Bosquete was not the man who sexually assaulted a Key West woman in 1982, he must remain in custody while the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency investigates.
Bosquete’s lawyers say he came to the United States from Cuba in the 1980 Mariel boatlift and was paroled in 1981, meaning he is in the country legally and is not eligible for deportation.
ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez the government would comment on the case later.
Escaped from prison twice
Bosquete, who escaped from prison twice, is being represented by the Innocence Project, a nonprofit group based in New York. His lawyers said the immigration confusion comes from charges he pleaded guilty to under aliases he used while an escaped convict.
Bosquete was arrested shortly after the 1982 assault when the victim, sitting in a police car, identified him from 20 feet away as her attacker.
Bosquete escaped in 1985 and wasn’t re-arrested until 10 years later. He escaped again three months later and was at large for a year.
Prosecutors in Palm Beach County dismissed his 1985 escape charge on Monday, and Bosquete has served the sentence he got for his second getaway, officials said.