THE BRONX — A Bronx man cleared of murder after 20 years in prison delayed his own exoneration on Friday, demanding that a full investigation of his arrest and prosecution be carried out first.
In a shocking turn of events, wrongfully convicted man Richard Rosario's defense team asked Judge Robert Torres to stay the prosecution's request to dismiss all charges against Rosario stemming from the fatal 1996 shooting of of 17-year-old Jorge Collazo II, a crime that Rosario spent decades in prison for prior to having his conviction overturned in March.
Rosario said he is choosing to postpone the dismissal because Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark hasn't shared his case file with him, despite promising to do so.
"I believe that it would be good for her to show that she's not going to continue to uphold old policies that contributed to this wrongful conviction," he said.
He said Clark's office had taken the stance that the truth does not matter — and argued that whoever the real perpetrator of Collazo's murder is has probably done more harm to the community since then.
"This is the trust of the public that they’re playing with here," he said, "and I’m willing to go the distance for the truth."
It would be inappropriate for Rosario to see the prosecution's case files given that he is still under indictment in an active homicide investigation, according to a spokeswoman for the Bronx District Attorney.
Julian Bond O'Connor, deputy counsel to Clark, objected to staying the dismissal and maintained that his office was "fully committed" to conducting a thorough investigation of the Collazo murder.
Torres acknowledged that the defense had made an extremely unusual request and, after reminding Rosario that a stay would mean an open murder case still hung over his head, asked prosecutors to hand in a written application for dismissal on Aug. 30 that he would sign.
Collazo was killed on the afternoon of June 19, 1996 by White Plains Road and Turnbull Avenue, and although Rosario said he was in Deltona, Florida on the day of the murder and had multiple witnesses who could back this up, his lawyer at the time never sent an investigator to Florida or interviewed the witnesses.
Rosario repeatedly said on Friday that he had the interests of the victim's family in mind as well, as they deserve to know who was actually responsible for the murder of Collazo.
"Their son deserves justice," he said. 'Their family deserves closure."
However, Collazo's father, also named Jorge Collazo, is still unconvinced that Rosario was not involved in his son's murder and strongly objected to Rosario saying he was innocent, despite the fact that his conviction has been overturned.
"He has not been declared innocent," he said. "He keeps saying he’s innocent, but he is not declared innocent."