It’s with great sadness that we mark the passing of Innocence Project exoneree Scott Fappiano, who died Thursday night at Staten Island University Hospital due to complications from lung cancer. He was 55 years old.
In 2006, Scott walked free from the Kings County (Brooklyn) Supreme Court after 22 years of wrongful imprisonment for a rape he did not commit. At the age of 22, Scott was sent to prison based on a mistaken eyewitness identification arising from a tainted photo array. He was one of the first prisoners in New York State to petition for DNA testing, but most of the evidence that could have cleared him was lost or destroyed in NYPD custody. Finally, more than two decades after Scott was sent to prison, the Innocence Project located two remaining test tubes at a warehouse in Texas containing DNA from the rapist. The evidence was DNA tested using advanced methods and proved Scott’s innocence, leading the Kings County District Attorney to consent to his immediate release.
Scott was a larger-than-life son of Brooklyn. He loved baseball, Italian food, bear hugs, a good joke, and above all, his large and close-knit family. Scott’s late mother Rose Fappiano never wavered in her faith in Scott’s innocence throughout his wrongful incarceration, and she was overjoyed to welcome him home after his exoneration. Over the last decade, Scott remained close with many members of his Innocence Project legal team, including Jennifer Millstone, the former law student who worked tirelessly on his case, and her husband David.
Scott fell in love with Joanne Prestia shortly after his release, and the two married in 2009. He took great joy in helping to raise Joanne’s twin daughters, who are now in college. Scott passed away with Joanne and many loving family members at his bedside. We will miss him dearly.
Related: Scott Fappiano’s New Life