[Pictured above: Innocence Program Co-director Sharon Beckman (right) in the BC Law Center for Experiential Learning]
The Boston College Innocence Program, along with the New England Innocence Project and the Innocence Project, Inc., has filed an amicus brief urging the state's highest court to affirm the Middlesex Superior Court order vacating Victor Rosario's 1983 convictions in connection with a deadly fire in Lowell.
Amici argue that current fire science, which the Superior Court found contradicted the assumptions, methods, and conclusions of the prosecution's arson investigators at trial, casts doubt on the matching "confession" that those same arson investigators prepared for Rosario to sign using interrogation techniques now known to produce false confessions. The brief explains that Rosario's case fits within a pattern of over thirty cases around the country where new fire science has exonerated individuals wrongfully convicted of arson and arson-related homicides, six of which also involved false confessions.
"Faulty forensics, investigative tunnel vision, and false-confession-inducing interrogation techniques created the perfect storm for Victor Rosario's wrongful conviction," said BC Innocence Program Director Sharon Beckman. "His case gives the SJC an opportunity show how advances in science and social science research can help judges recognize and remedy such injustices."
BC Innocence Program students Eva Rasho '18 and Eitan Davis '18 contributed to the amicus brief. The law firm of Willkie, Farr & Gallagher, LLP also participated in the brief as pro bono counsel to amici.
Mr. Rosario is represented by Attorney Andrea Peterson, BC Law '85 and CPCS Innocence Program Director Lisa Kavanaugh.
Commonwealth v. Victor Rosario, SJC 12115, will be argued in the SJC on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. The briefs are available for download here.