Speaking topics: Coerced Confession, False Accusation, Inadequate Legal Defense
“Whosoever continues thinking about my character, about who I am—I know who I am: I’m an innocent man that did 32 years in prison for a crime that I did not commit.”
Shortly after 1 a.m. on Friday, March 5, 1982, a fire was reported in a building in Lowell, MA. Firefighters concluded that arson caused the blaze. On March 6, police learned that 24-year-old Victor Rosario had been treated by the Red Cross for cuts on his hand and then was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Detectives interviewed Rosario at the apartment where he lived. Rosario said he and a friend were on their way home when they saw black smoke coming from the building. Rosario said he couldn’t get in through the door because of heavy smoke, so he broke several windows with his hand, cutting himself. He said he could hear children screaming, but was unable to get them out. On March 28, 1983, a jury convicted Rosario of eight counts of murder and one count of arson. He was sentenced to eight consecutive life prison terms and a concurrent term of 18 to 22 years on the arson conviction. After 32 years in prison, on September 8, 2017—following expert testimony and several appeals—the prosecution dismissed the charges and Rosario became a free man.