Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wilhite Files Wrongful Conviction Lawsuit against the Commonwealth

Charles Wilhite is seeking half a million dollars in compensation from the state for being wrongfully convicted of murder and for his years spent sitting in jail.
Wilhite and his attorneys made the announcement Tuesday saying a wrongful conviction lawsuit has been filed against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Originally, he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in December of 2010 after the state claimed he had been the shooter in the 2008 murder of Alberton Rodriguez outside a Springfield market

For more than 3 years, Charles Wilhite sat in prison cells in both Ludlow and Shirley, convicted of a crime that his lawyers said he did not commit.

Then in 2011, Wilhite was granted a new trial when a prosecution witness recanted his identification of Wilhite as the shooter. Two years later he was found not guilty of the murder at his second trial in January of 2013.

Following the verdict, Wilhite, Springfield’s Arise for Social Justice, family, lawyers, and community members announced they’d filed a wrongful conviction suit against Springfield and two officers. This was in January.

Now six months later he wants the Commonwealth to compensate him too and so he and his attorneys, Howard Friedman and Drew Glassroth, have filed a wrongful conviction lawsuit against the state.

In a press release sent to ABC40 Tuesday, Attorney Friedman says, "No physical evidence linked Mr. Wilhite to the crime. Five witnesses, including two confidential informants, told police that the shooter was a light-skinned Hispanic man. Mr. Wilhite is African American. The complaint alleges that Springfield police officers Anthony Pioggia and Steven Tatro pressured witnesses to falsely implicate Mr. Wilhite and that prosecutors used these false and inconsistent witness statements to convict Mr. Wilhite. Two witnesses who identified Mr. Wilhite eventually recanted and said that they had made their identifications due to police pressure."

The complaint filed Tuesday in Suffolk County Superior Court, seeks $500,000 in compensation for Wilhite for the damages caused by his wrongful conviction and years of lost freedom.

Original report here




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