(New York – December 30, 2019) Today, the Hon. Joseph Zayas of Queens County Supreme Court granted a motion to vacate the 1990 conviction of Innocence Project client Felipe Rodriguez and entered an order dismissing all charges against him. Rodriguez served 27 years in prison before today’s exoneration.
Rodriguez is represented by the Innocence Project and the Law Offices of Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma. The Innocence Project first took on Rodriguez’s case in 2007, and has worked to clear him of his wrongful conviction for nearly 13 years.
Notably, today’s exoneration was the result of a reinvestigation into Rodriguez’s claim of innocence and the evidence that led to his conviction by the Queens County District Attorney’s Office (QCDA), which it began at the Innocence Project’s request three years ago. That investigation revealed newly discovered exculpatory evidence in the police file that was unlawfully withheld from Rodriguez’ defense attorney. This evidence directly contradicts key portions of the state’s already weak case against him presented at the 1990 trial.
Rodriguez was granted a commutation of sentence by Governor Andrew Cuomo exactly three years ago today, on December 30, 2016. He was released from prison on January 2, 2017. Since his release, Rodriguez has gotten married and worked steadily at the Row Hotel as a member of the Hotel Trades Council Union (HTC). HTC leadership, moved by Rodriguez’s story and his record of achievements in prison, gave him the opportunity to rebuild his life with a living wage after release despite the fact that he still had a murder conviction on his record until today.