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Attorneys: DNA Proves Massachusetts Man Was Wrongfully Convicted of Aunt’s Murder

The New England Innocence Project and Ropes & Gray have file a motion for a new trial for Gary Cifizzari, of Taunton, who has served 35 years in prison

A Massachusetts man who has spent more than 35 years in prison for the 1979 killing of his great aunt is seeking a new trial.

Lawyers for Gary Cifizzari, 62, of Taunton, say in a motion filed Friday that new DNA tests on semen and saliva evidence exonerates their client and his late brother, Michael Cifizzari.

"We believe that it is never too late to do justice," said Radha Natarajan, the executive director of the New England Innocence Project.

NEIP is a nonprofit committed to correcting and preventing the wrongful convictions of innocent men and women in New England and is working with Cifizzari's attorney at Ropes & Gray.

Attorneys say the brothers were wrongly convicted of murder in 1984 in the killing of 75-year-old Concetta Schiappa, of Milford, because the case depended on flawed bite mark evidence testimony. They say one of the prosecution's expert witnesses has also since recanted his testimony.

"We now know who committed this gruesome murder because we were able to identify him through the use of DNA testing. His name was Michael Giroux," said Natarajan at a news conference.

Giroux died in 2014.

Semen and saliva found on the victim's nightgown is said to have matched Giroux's profile in the system for other crimes, including a murder in Rhode Island.

"Michael Giroux was the police's original suspect in this case back in 1979 when this murder happened," said Natarajan. "That's because Michael Giroux had the motive, having broken into the victim’s apartment before."

Attorneys hope their motion will be heard sometime in June.

"We have an opportunity here to right a really great wrong and to free a man who never should have gone to prison in the first place," said Kirsten Mayer of Ropes & Gray.

The Worcester County District Attorney’s Office released a statement saying, "We're in the process of reviewing the motion, evidence and additional testing that has been, and can be, performed with modern science. We want to make sure we get this right. We're committed to justice and we will continue to work with defense counsel to ensure justice is done."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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