MA Judge Grants New Trial For Man Supporters Claim Was Wrongfully Convicted Of Murder
A Massachusetts judge has granted a new trial for a man convicted two years ago of killing another man outside a Springfield store. The decision was based on the recantation of a main prosecution witness in the case of Charles Wilhite.In his ruling, Hampden Superior Court Judge Peter Velis said he found credible the claim by witness Nathan Perez that he felt coerced by investigators into falsely identifying Charles Wilhite as the shooter in the death of Alberto Rodriguez in October, 2008. Perez was the second witness in the case to recant their testimony. Those accounts, Wilhite's defenders say, were the only supposed evidence linking him to the crime.
“It was great to see that a miscarriage of justice was corrected.”
David Lewis is the appellate lawyer for Charles Wilhite.
“Serving a life sentence based on the testimony of two recanting witnesses is not what you want to see, and not what you want to see the system do. You know, you want the proper people to serve time.”
It is now in the government's court, so to speak, to decide how to respond to Judge Velis' ruling. It could appeal his decision, convene a new trial, or dismiss the charges and decide not to retry Wilhite. Vira Douangmany Cage, Wilhite's aunt and a spokesperson for the group Justice for Charles, says she remains hopeful that he will be released from prison soon.
“We're hoping that the new district attorney who has inherited this case would be able to look at how the murder investigation occurred, you know, what went wrong. And figure out how could somebody like Charles Wilhite end up in this situation where he's now serving a natural life sentence for something he didn't do.”
Calls to the office of Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni for comment were not returned in time for this broadcast. Wilhite remains in jail at a maximum security prison in Shirley, Massachusetts pending further legal action.