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Richard Rosario, Wrongly Convicted Man, Stuns Judge at Hearing

by Dan Slepian and Corky Siemaszko /  / Updated  / Source: Associated Press
Richard Rosario was convicted 20 years ago of shooting and killing a teenager in Bronx.

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A Bronx man who served 20 years in prison for a murder that more than a dozen alibi witnesses say he could not have committed threw a wrench Friday into plans to dismiss the case against him.

Richard Rosario, over the objections of prosecutors, asked the court not to drop the charges until a full investigation could be done that exonerates him.

"It's clear that I'm innocent," he said. "I've been in prison for 20 years saying that I'm innocent. I've been transparent and forthcoming with information to prove my innocence. And it seems that the NYPD and the DA's office position is that the truth doesn't matter."

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"The public should know the truth," he said.

The stunned judge asked Rosario if he was sure this is what he wanted.

Watch the full series from Dateline

"Mr. Rosario, you realize that by doing this you are asking to keep a murder indictment against you," said Bronx Supreme Court Justice Robert Torres. "This is a very unusual application."

But Rosario insisted he wanted to be proven innocent. So the judge asked both prosecutors and Rosario's lawyers for written arguments — leaving the case, at least through Aug. 30, in limbo.

Rosario had been released a month earlier after Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said he had not gotten a fair trial for the 1996 murder of 17-year-old Jorge Collazo. She said Rosario's defense attorneys had not done enough to track down his alibi witnesses.

 Richard Rosario was convicted 20 years ago of shooting and killing a teenager in Bronx.

The decision appeared to close the book on a torturous case that that was chronicled in “Conviction,” a streaming documentary series produced by Dateline NBC that, among other things, tracked down most of the 13 witnesses who confirmed Rosario was more than 1,000 miles away in Florida when Collazo was gunned down on a Bronx street.

Rosario’s conviction was vacated in March the day after the documentary went online.

“I’ve been in prison for 20 years for a crime I didn’t commit, “Rosario said at the time. “My family didn’t deserve this. I didn’t deserve this, and nor does the family of the victim.”

At that point, Rosario had already served 20 years of a 25-to-life sentence for the Collazo murder.

The Bronx DA’s office had long resisted revisiting the case and Rosario’s conviction had been upheld many times by appellate courts. But Clark began looking into the case even before she took office in January and dispatched investigators to Florida to check out Rosario’s alibis.

 Richard Rosario arrest photo from 1992. NBC News

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