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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  January 8, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PST

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i'm so glad you came. >> okay. >> thank you. >> you're welcome. >> all right. her name is wanika collazo. she tells me she adored her little brother and is here to make sure someone speaks for him. so you brought a picture of george. she tells me how george was the youngest of five. >> he died the day after my 20th birthday. >> the much loved baby boy of four older sisters. >> he played football. he played little league for years. he loved it. we loved going to his games to watch him. >> she says she'll never forget the moment she heard what happened. she was at work and called home. her father answered the phone. >> he said your brother has been shot. i don't know how bad it is. i need you to get here. that's the worst feeling. >> if there was any silver lining in those first weeks, she says it was that a suspect was quickly in custody. >> you feel a relief, but you want to be sure at the same time that they get the right person. i felt like i needed more.
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my sister felt like she needed more. >> so she and her sister decided to face the man accused of their brother's murder and went to visit richard rosario in jail where he was being held awaiting trial. >> told him who we were and she said, we just really want to talk to you and just see what you have to say. and his body language was -- he just, like, looked -- he just couldn't look at us. i didn't do it. i was in florida. just very, like -- that's all he would say. should have been, like, i did not do this, i'm sorry this happened, but it was not me. those words never came out of his mouth. it was just a -- >> angry denial. >> yes. >> so it wasn't what he was saying, it was how he was communicating. >> correct. and that day my sister and i decided, yeah, they had the right person. >> rosario didn't exactly strike me as the friendliest guy either, but why in the world would he treat the victim's family that way. here's richard now.
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i asked richard about that when he calls me. >> hello. >> call from -- correctional facility. >> richard? >> yeah. >> hi. >> how are you doing, man? >> i tell rosario what wanika said about meeting him. >> she said she went to go visit you when you were arrested originally. do you remember that? >> yeah. i remember that. i gave them my condolences. that's one thing i told them. i never met their brother. i was in florida. >> she says you did not give her any condolences. she said you wouldn't look her in the eye, you were rude, you were mean to her, and kind of convinced her that you were guilty. >> wouldn't doubt it one bit that i may have come off as angry, but, you know, it wasn't necessarily towards them. all i know is i'm in prison for
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a crime i didn't commit. i can see how they can misconstrue that as me being angry toward them. >> well, his attitude certainly convinced wanika he was guilty. >> i believe he did it. i don't think he's innocent at all. >> so i wonder what she would think of all those alibi witnesses who say rosario was in florida. >> that's how i know he's innocent. because he is. >> she is not sold. >> no doubt in your mind? >> no doubt in my mind. >> i don't believe it. no. these are all people that knew him. >> i also show her what the eyewitness robert davis said. again, she's not buying it. >> years later, things can become confusing. imagine for somebody his age how it can get. but even though she believes rosario was guilty, she tells me something else that gets my attention even more. were you shocked that it happened? >> no. >> why? >> because he was scared.
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he knew something was going to happen. >> she insists her brother's murder was not the result of a random altercation. and that the police and prosecutors got the theory of the crime wrong. >> i'm, like, are are you so ridiculous? >> ridiculous, she says, because george actually told her he was a target, that he knew someone was after him. which is the reason why she says george was found with a gun in his jacket when he was killed. >> only reason he had that gun is because he was scared and felt like maybe he could scare somebody off with it. he knew something was going to happen to him because he slapped that girl. >> just two weeks before her brother's murder, she says george slapped a girl from the neighborhood who he thought was disrespecting him. that's the first thing that came to your mind? >> that's the only thing he was scared of. >> tell me exactly what he told you. >> he said, we went to her job, she said some nasty stuff to me and i smacked her. he was, like, and she said she's going to take care of me for that. she said those words to him. >> you're absolutely convinced
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that she's involved. >> absolutely convinced. she's part of this. i know she's part of this. >> what was her name? >> i don't remember. >> the slapping incident sounds like it could be important. but according to wani cka, it ia lead the detectives did not vigorously investigate. >> no one ever interviewed you? >> no. >> the cops never interviewed you. >> no. >> and asked you about your brother's past? >> no, not a word. >> nobody in your family. >> no. >> was she right? was her brother's murder not random after all? that's next on "conviction." what shall we call you? tom! name it tom! studies show that toms have the highest average earning potential over their professional lifetime. see? uh, it's a girl. congratulations! two of my girls are toms. i work for ally, finances are my thing. you know, i'm gonna go give birth real quick and then we'll talk, ok? nice baby. let's go. here comes tom #5! nothing, stops us from doing right by our customers. ally. do it right. whoo! look out.
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excuse me. can i ask you real quick -- my investigation has taken a turn. >> so ridiculous. who has a getaway car and something that is random. >> his sister is adamant that the official theory of the crime is wrong. and she's not the first person i've heard say that. so what is your gut telling you
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about this? >> it wasn't random. that's my -- i don't think it is random. >> months earlier at the crime scene, former detective bobby addolorato said the same thing. >> it looks like a setup. >> meaning he was targeted to be killed. >> yes. >> bobby says his first clue, that getaway car parked at the corner. >> they pull up and happen to get corner spot. >> a perfect place to wait until george showed up. >> play the scenario out. if i'm sitting there, i can see you. just say if you're laying in wait, here they come, let's go. >> and it appears they may have been laying in wait. according to police reports, a hot dog vendor on that block said he saw the men hanging around earlier that morning and even told a passerby to be careful, that the men had guns. and then there was that bump that supposedly started it all. >> not like you're walking in a tight area. okay. you're not walking where it is, like, manhattan, you bump into people all the time.
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almost like you had to go out of your way to bump into each other. it is a wide open spot. >> and bobby says the way george was killed speaks volumes. >> he shot once in the face, point blank. this was personal. it was face to face. >> so if bobby's right, and it was a hit, that means there was a plan. and that's why there is one key person he would want to know more about. the eyewitness, michael sanchez. >> if it is a hit, you have to know the victim was going to be at that location where he parked your car. i'm just saying sanchez, to me, is not out of the realm of suspicion. he's a guy you want to know more about. >> ivan wi've been trying to fi sanchez for months. eventually someone connected to the case gives me his phone number and he answers on my first try. hi, michael, this is dan slepian, a producer with nbc news. how are you? >> i'm good. this is not a good time. i'm at work.
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>> right away he tells me he's at work and asks me to call back in an hour. >> all right, i'll call you later on. >> i try a few times but he never answers. >> please record your message. >> give me a call when you have a chance. i want to chat with you. i keep trying and trying. to this day, i never hear back. >> to leave a call back number, press 5. >> maybe he doesn't want to talk to me about a horrible memory and to be clear he has never been implicated in this crime and might not have anything to do with it at all. but to run with bobby's theory for a moment that sanchez might know more than he told police, consider this, remember that slapping incident the victim's sister told me about. >> he was scared. he knew something was going to happen to him because he slapped that girl. >> the one that happened two weeks before her brother's murder. this is where the plot thickens. >> you know, mikey's girlfriend. >> she told me that girl was michael sanchez's girlfriend at the time. but here is something i find even more interesting. the original detectives knew about the slapping incident back
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then. it is all documented in their reports. in fact, it was michael sanchez who told them about it. in his interview with police, he said george and his girlfriend did not get along. so the detectives actually went and spoke with lamary who was slapped and in her interview, she says she filed a harassment report two weeks before the murder with the police department. now i want to get my hands on that report. i file a freedom of information request with the nypd and about a month later, i get a letter denying me the report. i call a lawyer to follow up. >> i have filed a freedom of information request. >> he tells me the only one who can get it is lamary, the woman who filed it. so i track her down. >> i'm calling. i speak with her a few times. she refuses to go on camera but says michael sanchez was just a friend. how are you? she has no idea who killed george or why he slapped her two
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weeks before his murder. she also tells me she doesn't remember filing a harassment report about it with the nypd. >> so what they said to me is if you request it, you can get it. >> when i tell her i know it exists, she assures me she'll help me get it. and that's when i stop hearing from lymari. i'm definitely interested in finding out more about that slapping incident and trying to get my hands on that report. so i'm on my way down to speak with richard's current attorneys, their names are glen garber and rebecca friedman. they run an organization called the exoneration initiative that focuses on claims of innocence. >> this case smells terrible and looks like a terrible injustice has occurred. >> you just have to, like, glance at the case to understand how significant it is. >> glenn and rebecca are the latest of nearly a dozen appellate attorneys who volunteered to help rosario overturn his conviction. >> this case has gone all the
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way to the united states supreme court. and richard has been denied over and over and over again. what makes you guys think that you can do something different than every other attorney has done? >> what is the babe ruth comment? >> it is hard to beat someone who never gives up. >> and we're in the bronx, by the way. >> glenn and rebecca needed a hook, something new, to convince a judge to grant rosario another day in court. i wonder about that slapping incident. something rosario's original jury never heard about. i'm really intrigued by that. that, to me, seems like a little bit more of a motive than a random bump in the street. it didn't seem like the detectives vigorously investigated that, did they? >> it is my understanding they did not do very much to follow up on it. >> the attorneys tell me they don't know much about it either, but believe they found something even more important, when they began to focus on a woman named nicole torres. >> nicole torres was a witness originally interviewed by the police at the scene of the
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crime, who never testifies at trial. >> nicole torres went to school with both the victim george collazo and his friend michael sanchez. and according to this police report, she appeared on the scene just minutes after george was shot. >> so the way the police report was written around nicole torres, as if she was an immaterial witness who didn't see anything and didn't hear anything. >> but that's not what glenn and rebecca heard when they spoke with nicole torres in person. nearly two decades after the murder, nicole signed this affidavit swearing that police report was wrong. in fact, she now says she was right there and saw the whole thing. the gunman, the getaway car, she even heard what the killer said. >> she saw the killer jog up behind them, and say, hey, george, this is for you, before shooting george collazo in the head once, and they she saw him turn around and jog to an intersection, where there was a car waiting. >> much of the police report
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from nicole torres' interview on the day of the crime is blacked out, redacted. but buried in the case file rebecca found an unredacted copy of that report that had been disclosed years after rosario's trial. >> so in the redacted version of the police report, it is hard to even tell who is speaking. when you receive the unredacted version, you see that she told the police michael sanchez said to her at the scene of the crime i didn he didn't see the shooter. >> but, remember, michael sanchez was the first one who pointed to rosario's picture, just a few hours after the shooting. >> that is a significant piece of information and certainly defense attorney would want to have that information so they can cross-examine sanchez to show to a jury he's not credible. >> glen and rebecca believe they now have enough to ask a judge to reopen rosario's case, to hold a hearing and call
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witnesses. and they file a motion at bronx supreme court. the bronx d.a. responded to rosario's motion, writing that his office voluntarily began a reinvestigation and that both eyewitnesses, michael sanchez and robert davis, remain steadfast that rosario was the gunman. and in a footnote, the d.a. said rosario's purported alibi evidence had already been exhaustively evaluated and rejected. so no one from the d.a.'s office contacted rosario's fate in thes of a judge, the family has hope that they'll be reunited. for now, all they can do is wait. that's next on "conviction." oh, that's lovely...
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then give you an unrealistic timeline. i'll nod in agreement so my wife thinks i understand what you're saying. i look forward to questioning your every move. okay, well i'll leave your house in shambles and disappear for six months. wouldn't it be great if everyone said what they meant? the citi® double cash card does. it lets you earn double cash back: 1% when you buy, and 1% as you pay. the citi double cash card. double means double. sit. sit. >> it has been ten months since i first met richard rosario's kids in florida, amanda and richard jr. >> here at the airport, about to get on the plane soon. hopefully go see our father in new york. >> i'm curious what visits are like for them. they agree to let me tag along
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and i offer to drive them to the prison. i don't know if it is rare. i don't know if this relationship you have with him, you live in a different state, the only way you've known him is in prison. and yet you keep coming up, you keep flying up. what is it that keeps that bond so tight? >> despite the fact that i wasn't able to see him when i was little, i always got a card, i always got -- i got so much from him as a little girl. >> always made it known he was our father. >> and that he loved us. >> and that he loved us. >> as the miles roll by, the kids open up more and more. >> you know, life would have been really different if my father was around. as a boy, you go to your father for guidance, for help, because he's another man in your household. >> i see how painful this is for them. i wonder have they ever talked with their dad about what it is like growing up without him? amanda's answer surprises me.
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>> i haven't talked to him about it ever. >> got any feeling in your gut when you see this prison over this hill? >> nerve wracking. >> yeah. i get butterflies, i get nervous. >> inside the prison's visiting room, the kids have to wait like they always do, for their dad to be processed. >> now i'm getting nervous. >> they often sing to themselves while they wait. kids tell me it calms them. ♪ >> i realize they only know their father from their time together at a table, in a prison's visiting room.
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>> hi, dad. >> what's up? >> you all right? >> what's up? >> what's going on? >> how was your trip over? >> it was good. it was cold. >> you look sharp, man. you look sharp. after some small talk and catching up, amanda brings up the topic she says they have always avoided. >> on the way over here, we were talking about we never really expressed individually how this whole thing has affected us. >> i can't even come up with the
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words of how -- >> just let it out, man. >> it breaks my heart every time i have to come here. to see you sitting here in this, like, why is he here? and that's something that -- the biggest thing i can lose in life is my father. >> it is different with, you know, us, because it wasn't like i was a deadbeat dad. i was there. you know. you don't remember a lot of things. i used to take you to parks and it used to just be us. there is a picture i got, right here. >> i used to look at that all the time. i have that one. >> yeah? how do you feel about all this? >> i get anxiety. i get depressed when i leave. >> i know.
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>> i try to stay positive and i appreciate the phone calls and i appreciate the letters and i thank god i can at least visit you. but i just -- it is hard. >> i know. >> i hate making memories over the phone. i hate -- i feel like the older i get, the worse it gets for me. >> i'm going to die on my feet fighting for my freedom, for my children. and that's what i'm going to keep doing for the rest of my life, whether i'm here or out there. and that's what you got to do. you want to talk about this any time, how you feel, life in general, we can talk. about anything. don't have to feel no shame. i've cried plenty of times. because i love my family. and there is nothing wrong with that. that's one thing that, you know, i'm glad, like i tell your
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mother, she's the best thing that happened in my life because through her, i have you guys. so, you know, me and your mother did something good in life. i did something good in life. and despite what i'm going through, i hang on to that. >> their visit isn't all deep and serious. they talk about the things any normal family would. and then all too soon it's time. >> let's end this. >> a court will now decide if rosario will be reunited with his kids outside prison walls. >> i've been waiting for them to do the right thing for 19 years. until then, i'm cautiously optimistic. >> that's next on "conviction." ] have fun with your replaced windows. run away! [ grunts ] leave him! leave him! [ music continues ] brick and mortar, what?!
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richard lui with your hour's top stories. new shocking footage from tmz showing the moment when a gunman opened fire at an airport on friday.
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that suspect visibly seen pulling out a handgun and shooting. santiago's scheduled to appear in court on monday. akbar hashemi rafsanjani died at age 82 according to iranian state media. he was a moving voice in improved relations with the u.s. and western powers. for now, back to "dateline conviction." it has been a full year since i stood in the office of richard rosario's lawyer at the exoneration initiative, rebecca friedman. >> last time i spoke to you was a year ago. >> we're waiting for the judge's decision to give us this hearing and we're hoping he will do it and we can call all the witnesses. >> you were saying you have high hopes for it. >> now, the judge has made his decision. >> tell me what happened. >> our motion was denied without a hearing. the judge said there is not enough here for me to even give
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you your day in court. >> denied. in his decision, the judge wrote that rosario already had his day in court, referring back to that 2004 hearing where seven of his alibi witnesses testified and were rejected. the judge called that hearing extensive, and ruled that rosario's new motion to vacate his conviction is denied in all respects. bronx d.a. robert johnson declined an interview, but i got this e-mail from his office pointing out rosario's long list of unsuccessful appeals, all the way to the u.s. supreme court. >> there is richard's stuff all over here. this is what we're working on with his case now. can you describe what it feels like to work on a case that long, know the case the way you know it and have your motion denied? >> it is incredibly frustrating. i think it is the best way to put it. it is sad. it is dismissive of richard's life, you know. this isn't just a name.
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richard never actually even appeared in court before this judge. we tried to get this judge to bring him to court so he could look at his face and see this is a man, this is a person, this is not just a name on a piece of paper. >> so it is 2016. it has been about two years since i first made this drive up to see richard rosario. things are a little different now than they were back then. i know more about his story. he had hope last time i interviewed him that he would get another day in court. but his appeal has been denied. and i wonder how that is affecting him. a lot of barbed wire. he's in a new prison over here. one night he was told to pack up his stuff and he was moved, which must be stress on top of
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stress. mr. rosario. >> how are you doing? >> good to see you again. >> you look almost as nervous as the first time we did this. are you? >> i'm always nervous about this, being on camera. >> why? >> just i'm not used to it. you're used to this. so you know. >> listen, just be yourself, speak the truth. >> of course. >> that's all that matters, right? >> mm-hmm. >> so we first spoke on camera two years ago. >> yes. >> you've never been worried about what we would find. >> no. >> not for one moment. >> not for one moment. i've been open book since the beginning. >> how many facilities have you been in? >> 11. >> 11 different facilities. >> yeah. >> you've been locked up for 20 years. >> 20 years. >> and you just had your latest appeal denied. >> yeah. >> how do you process that? how do you deal with that? >> i've been through it so many times, so my bar of expectation
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is so low. but it hurts. i mean, you get denied and then, you know, i want to visit with my wife and i can't even look at her because i don't want this for her. so it is difficult. >> rosario believes the people who put him away must know he's innocent by now and just won't own up to it. >> we're dealing with people that don't want to say we made a mistake. nobody wants to say that. it was easier for them to just close the case and give somebody some semblance of peace, which is the victim's family, but, you know, they are causing more harm. and god knows what happened with the guy whoever did it, he's still running the streets or how many victims he's had since. >> his fight continues. his lawyers have filed yet another appeal. asking a higher court to grant rosario a new hearing. with everything that is now known about the murder of george collazo, rosario's attorney glen
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garber is livid that his client still sits in prison. >> when people see this, right, people are saying, i don't get it. what do you make of that? >> we live in a world that is upside down, where jurists who have sworn to uphold justice don't do it, they look for ways to turn a blind eye to this [ bleep ] and it is [ bleep ] gross. that's why. it is not rational. so don't ask us to give you a rational answer. >> in january 2016, after serving for nearly 30 years, robert johnson stepped down as the bronx district attorney. the new d.a. is darcel clark, she had been an appellate judge for year and it turns out she comes from the same neighborhood where the murder happened. rosario's attorneys immediately asked for a meeting and just two weeks before she took office, the incoming d.a. agreed to hear what they had to say. >> today, to me, struck me as an important day. >> today is a potentially important day. the fact we have an audience
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with the district attorney to be is huge because we're hopeful she's going to be receptive. and justice can be served quickly. >> justice. a word richard rosario says doesn't apply to him. whether or not he had his freedom stolen, one thing, for me at least, is certain, he's never lost his conviction. >> i'm never going to lose hope. they have to take me out of here in a box, i'll never lose hope. no matter how long i'm here. >> less than two months after that interview with him, the case that seemed so dead suddenly had new life, a twist that no one saw coming. that's next on "conviction." liberty mutual stood with me when i was too busy with the kids to get a repair estimate. liberty did what?
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it is now march, 2016. two months since i last spoke with richard rosario, and we're about a week away from publishing this report when i hear some big news. the bronx d.a. has recently sent investigators to florida to speak with rosario's alibi witnesses. so i call one of them to find out more. and what did they say? >> well, they were just questioning as they recorded the conversation. >> remember fernando torres, the pastor and father of sheriff deputy john torres. he tells me four investigators from new york were at his home in florida that very morning. so did they interview you and margarita? >> yes, and they were taking turns, going over to the other people, like, you know, and they were going to go check my son out in palm beach. >> maybe the timing of all this is just a coincidence. then just a few days later,
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there is even bigger news. so here i am working on the final touches of this series when i get a call from richard's lawyer saying the d.a.'s office is going to vacate the conviction against him, just like that. i called the d.a.'s office, they confirmed it, saying they now believe richard did not get a fair trial. basically what that means is that richard is walking out of prison a free man and that's happening in the next couple of days. >> and almost as if it was destined, rosario's wife and his kids amanda and richard jr. just happen to be in new york visiting him this very day. >> 20 years, i've never seen my father outside of prison. >> rosario's lawyers at the exoneration initiative had just broken the news. and minerva is overwhelmed. >> to here he's going to be released after 20 years, i mean, there is so many emotions tied to that. >> just 24 hours later, and richard rosario is about to be a
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free man for first time in 20 years. as the press assembles in the courtroom, across the street i meet with darcel clark, the bronx district attorney, the first time anyone from that office has agreed to go on the record with me since i began looking into this case. >> i presided as a judge in this county for 13 of my 16 years on the bench and now i'm the chief law enforcement officer for the entire borough. >> you grew up here. >> i'm a daughter of the bronx. >> she's actually made history. clark is the first african-american woman to be a district attorney in the state of new york. as we're sitting here now speaking, folks from your office are driving richard rosario from prison to the courthouse to be released. >> yes. >> why are you doing that? >> well, before i took office i met with the exoneration initiative about mr. rosario. and it came to my attention that they had an appeal and our
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answer was due. before i did anything else on mr. rosario's case, i thought it was necessary to just do the preliminary steps of investigating the case or the allegations. he had an alibi defense that was never investigated. so the first thing i did was let's investigate the alibi. >> sounds so simple, the way she says it. >> you said why don't we call them? >> no, i sent somebody down. >> you sent somebody down to talk to them, right? >> yes. >> why has that not happened in 20 years? >> i cannot speak for that. i've been the district attorney since january 1st. >> was it surprising to you when you heard that, that no one from the bronx d.a.'s office or the nypd, no one in law enforcement has ever reached out to those alibi witnesses until last week when you did it? >> i have to say i was surprised. i was surprised. >> and it didn't take long for her to conclude richard rosario did not get a fair trial. but that doesn't mean she believes he's innocent.
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richard rosario called me last night. i spoke with him last night. >> yes. >> he is obviously extraordinarily thankful that he's going to be reunited with his family. but he told me he felt cheated, disappointed because you're not exonerating him. why not? >> well, because there still needs to be more investigation. i didn't have a chance to thoroughly investigate every aspect of his defense as well as continuing to investigate the crime itself. i need a chance to investigate it more. but in the meantime, there is no reason for him to have to wait behind bars in order for me to continue the investigation. >> from rosario's perspective, i've never changed my story, obvious i'm innocent, he says, now this is hanging over my head. how does he rebuild, how does he rebuild his life? >> i hope he can do that by the fact that he's no longer in state prison. but i think he can be reassured
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that now that i am the district attorney and i'm reviewing his case, that i am doing just that, and i think that i've demonstrated the sincerity of the work and the integrity behind the work that this office is doing. >> so we're just a few minutes away from richard coming out. there is a ton of press here, which is surprising because no one was really interested in his case for 20 years. and we're going to see what happens. >> as his family looks on, rosario is led into the courtroom, shackled. >> your honor, i'm going to ask if the cuffs can be taken off of him. >> the cuffs are quickly removed. and an attorney from bronx d.a. darcel clark's office tells the judge they now believe richard
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rosario did not receive a fair trial. >> we concede that the defendant did not receive effective assistance and counsel. you can sense the release of the defendant on his own recognizance. >> but he know he's not off the hook just yet. he still faces a possible retrial, and is due back in court in june to hear what the d.a. will do. >> the jury is still out on the d.a.'s office with regards to this wrongful conviction and i hope you would do the right thing tork exonerate me, because 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. neither about the victim or the victim's family. i hope this conviction is not just vacated, but exoneration is given to me. >> the ruling of the court, here by ordered, the motion to vacate. you are here by released.
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>> and just like that, unthinkable a few months earlier, richard rosario is now a free man. he walks out of the courthouse with his family, subdued, only interested in naming other inmates who he believes are innocent. >> free johnny velazquez. >> who knows what the future holds for richard rosario. for now, he heads to florida, to be with his family and wait, while the bronx d.a.'s office continues to investigate and decide if it will retry him. rosario will be back in court in a few months to learn his fate. that's next on "conviction." it's about moving forward not back. it's looking up not down. it's feeling up thinking up living up. it's being in motion... in body in spirit in the now. boost. it's not just nutrition.
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it's june 2016, 20 years since george's murder. richard has been out of prison for just over two months now and has come to florida to visit him and his family. within 24 hours of getting out of prison, a couple months ago, richard came here to live with hus wife and kids. even though the conviction was thrown out, there's still a criminal case pending against him. >> i want to know what life has been like for rosario, and how he's adjusting after spending two decades in a maximum security prison. he meets me outside the condo where they are now living. first of all, this is quite a picture, right? >> uh-huh. >> the four of you sitting together. >> yes. >> i catch up with the family in their kitchen. first, can you describe what it's like to be in a cell for 20
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years and come home? >> i can't describe it. i woke up one night with my wife, and i was sleeping, and i woke up in the middle of the night, and jumped up, and the door wasn't locked, i was going to be running right out of there. i didn't know where i was. >> disoriented? >> yeah. the first night, the second night, the third night, and we -- i still have effects of what i went through. >> reporter: his family tells me it's been tough for them since richard's come home. prison has hardened him, they say, and they are learning to connect in a whole new way. >> our journey, we have a long way to go. we're going to do it. we're going to make it, and i mean, it's not easy because to say that this is easy and love conquers everything, that's not the case. it's a matter of us growing together and beginning to walk through this and being able to understand each other and respect each other. >> to have him around the house and stuff, you know, every day interacting and stuff like that
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is different just visiting or on the phone, definitely. >> it's much different having him here every day or a 30 minute phone call. for me, i feel like we're building a whole new relationship. >> you know, imagine, richard, including my wife, they wanted richard back, we all, 20 years later, they are adults, and i'm not the same man. >> he says he's doing all he can to make up for lost time. playing basketball with his son. simply enjoying a meal with his wife. but what he knows he can't get back is watching his kids grow up. toddlers when we went away. now? amanda and richard, jr. are budding musicians. the kids wrote a song for their dad. they play it for them in their makeshift studio.
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♪ i went through the world without you by my side ♪ ♪ but cheering for me from the sidelines ♪ ♪ hold me down it's going to be all right ♪ >> nice. >> beautiful. >> that was great. that's what i'm talking about. >> reporter: but it's not over for richard rosario. he says all he wants is the d.a. to say publicly he could not have killed george. >> i'm innocent. i'm home. it could have been easier to just forget about this, but i can't. you call me a murderer and release my 20 years later, and that's it. no. that's unacceptable. >> you want the da's office or court to recognize your innocence? >> yes, absolutely. >> it's june 23rd, 2016, and rosario is back in new york for
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the first time since release. tomorrow, he's headed back to court to learn his fate. we meet up with him at chip's office, one of rosario's attorney, who's been by his side for more than a decade. >> you have court tomorrow. how are you feeling about this? >> yes. i'm feeling confident. truth is on my side. >> what's going to happen? >> i have no idea. i have no clue. >> are you nervous? >> no, not at all. >> no. he says he's confident anyone who looks at the facts of his case can only come to one conclusion? what's the district attorney clark think about that? >> so it's been almost three months to the day, actually, since we last spoke. >> yes. >> she agrees to sit down with me again on the eve of the hearing. when we last spoke, the office needed more time to investigate. >> have you done that? >> yes, we have. >> what have you learned? >> we've thoroughly interviewed a number of witnesses, his alibi witnesses, interviewed our
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witnesses, just every single angle looked into. i don't feel now that i would be able to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and that is the burden of proof that i must satisfy. >> but you're not saying he's innocent. >> what i'm saying is that i can't prove that he's guilty. >> i asked her about rosario's insistence to knowledge he's innocent. >> i understand his disappointment, but, you know, this is, you know, this is how it's going to work in his particular case. he's presumed innocent. he does not have to prove his innocence. he is innocent. if i can't prove him guilty, then he remains innocent. >> so what about others? >> the case is under investigation. i'm not ending the investigation. i'm ending the case against mr. rosario. >> oh, so she thought. the next day in court, an assistant attorney gets to the point. >> in the light to meet the burden at trial, the district attorney moves to dismiss all
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charges against mr. rosario in the interest of justice. >> and then he and his lawyers stand up and stun the courtroom. >> i would like to express my condolences to the family of the deceased, but the bottom line here is that their son deserves justice. their family deserves closure, and the public zephyrs the truth. i've been in prison for 20 years saying i'm innocent. i've been transparent and forthcoming with information to prove my innocence and to the public, they should know the truth. >> his lawyer asks the judge to not to dismiss rosario's case until the d.a. says on the record that he do not kill george. the judge says this is the first for him. >> and open homicide case hangs over your head. you understand that? >> yes. >> the judge tells everyone to come back in august to sort it out. outside court, george's father doesn't mince words about how he feels about richard rosario.
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>> says he's innocent, but he's lying to you and the public. >> i also catch up with rosario to ask about what happened. >> they just tried to dismiss a murderer indictment, and you said no thanks. >> yes. the truth is important to me and should be important to the community and to the victim's family. >> it's november 2016, and even the judgmented everybody back in august, it's taken five months to resolve the case, and it was only resolved last week, so now richard is here at the attorney's office, and i'm going to go upstairs to talk about how he's feeling about this. >> the judge officially dismissed the case against richard, but the d.a. never said he wasn't the killer. instead in a statement concluded that since we're unable to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the case should not be retried, and the d.a. said the
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investigation in the killing will continue. >> sir? >> yeah? >> so it's eight months since you've been out. last we left you, you stood up in court in june, don't dismiss the indictment. what happened? >> i wanted to get completely exonerated. the fact that i did that wasn't with any intent of thumbing my nose down. i just wanted the truth. i wanted the transparency of the fact of what happened in the case, who was involved in the wrongful conviction. i wanted to that come out, but it's still a victim nevertheless. >> for sure it's been a long road for everyone involved with this case. even though rosario was not clear the way wanted to be, it's now over, and it was worth the wait. >> my point in standing up is to let the system know this problem that's going on across the country with wrongful convictions is just something that has to stop.
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i took that stance, and regardless of the conclusions, america knows i'm nenltd. i know i'm innocent, and, finally, i can move on with my life. she had missed a pleating, and then not to hear from her? this isn't right. is would have been impossible to get up every day knowing she was gone. i had to believe we would find her alive. >> text her, she always got right back. >> i've seen her step out of the shower to answer the phone. >> then one day, she didn't. >> immediately, my senses were high. >> where was she? >> i send her an e-mail, all caps, are you alive? >> there was no sign of o

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