20 Years Vacate Richard Rosario’s Murder Conviction

Richard Rosario has spent two decades behind bars, insisting for every one of those years that 13 alibi witnesses could prove he was innocent of a 1996 New York City murder.

On Tuesday, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office told NBC News it intends to ask a judge to throw out Rosario’s conviction.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark confirmed that the DA will move to vacate the conviction and ask that Rosario be released from prison “after a review by her office determined that he did not receive a fair trial.”

But, the statement added, “The charges against Mr. Rosario remain open pending further investigation.”

For years, former Bronx DA Robert Johnson stood by the conviction and appellate courts have consistently upheld it. But when Clark took office on January 1st of this year, she vowed that potential wrongful convictions would be a focus for her office, and began to look into the Rosario case.

The news comes just two days before the launch of “Conviction,” a streaming documentary series produced by Dateline NBC that is set to be released on NBCNews.com on Thursday. It documents a producer’s two-year investigation into the long and twisted history of Rosario’s case.

“We are very happy that Richard is going to be free, that he’s going to get a measure of justice after 20 years,” said Rosario’s attorneys, Rebecca Freedman and Glenn Garber of The Exoneration Initiative, a not-for-profit organization that investigates claims of innocence.

The Bronx DA’s office says it has begun the process of bringing Rosario from Eastern Correctional Facility in upstate New York, where he was housed, to the Bronx to appear in court. A law enforcement source tells NBC News that could happen by Wednesday.

Read More