After spending two decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit,
was exonerated on October 6, 2006. Tuesday marked his two-year anniversary.
Fappiano was convicted of a Brooklyn, New York, rape in 1983 and sentenced to 20-50 years in prison. The victim of the crime was the wife of a New York City police officer, and the officer witnessed the attack. While the victim identified Fappiano in a photo lineup and a subsequent lineup, the officer identified one of the lineup “fillers” as the perpetrator. (Fillers are the lineup participants who are not suspects.)
Fappiano was granted access to DNA testing in 1989, four years after he was convicted, but tests at the time were inconclusive. The Innocence Project accepted his case in 2003, and secured more advanced testing. The tests, conducted in 2005, proved that Fappiano could not have been the perpetrator. Greeting his family after his conviction was vacated in October of 2006, he said, "I missed having a family. I feel like I never left. Maybe I'm in shock. I feel like I could go on like tomorrow is just another day."
If the Innocence Project had been unable to locate evidence from the crime scene in 1983, Fappiano may never have been cleared. New York City has had a history of problems with evidence preservation; when Fappiano was exonerated, the Innocence Project had six open cases and 17 closed cases where evidence could not be found.
Other Exoneree Anniversaries This Week
, Ohio (Served 3 years, Exonerated 1994)
, Texas (Served 12 years, Exonerated 1997)
, West Virginia (Served 7 years, Exonerated 1995)
, Texas (Served 13 years, Exonerated 2001)