Supporters of Charles Wilhite Seek to Overturn Murder Conviction

A Massachusetts judge conducted a status hearing Thursday in the case of a Springfield man whose supporters say was wrongfully convicted of murder nearly two years ago.

In December 2010, Charles Wilhite and a co-defendant, Angel Hernandez, were found guilty in the shooting death of Alberto Rodriguez nearly two years earlier in Springfield's Six Corners neighborhood. Prosecutors say Hernandez paid Wilhite to carry out the shooting, which was allegedly prompted by a feud. Both Wilhite and Hernandez were sentenced to life in prison without parole. But Wilhite continues to maintain his innocence, and his family, friends and lawyers say police and prosecutors got the wrong man. Wilhite's aunt, Vira Douangmany-Cage says there is no physical evidence linking Wilhite to the murder victim, Rodriguez.

"We know what happened and we have the affadavits to show what happened according to the witnesses. And we want the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we want the district attorney to really treat the citizens of Springfield with the dignity and respect that they deserve because Alberto Rodriguez's family deserves justice as well."

Wilhite's family says his conviction was based in part on testimony from two key witnesses who have since recanted. In the status hearing in superior court in Springfield, Judge Peter Velis agreed to consider an evidentiary hearing but said he was not ready to order a new trial. Wilhite's lawyer says he's hoping for a new trial or a not-guilty verdict from the judge. The prosecution did not ask the judge to block the evidentiary hearing but made clear that they oppose a new trial.