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Man acquitted in 2nd murder trial after 12 years in prison

May 28, 2021 GMT

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts man who spent 12 years behind bars after being convicted of a killing he always maintained he did not commit was acquitted at his second trial on Friday and couldn’t leave the courthouse fast enough, according to his lawyer.

Angel Hernandez, 51, was cleared by a jury of the 2008 slaying of Springfield shopkeeper Alberto Rodriguez.

“After he was released he walked as fast as he could down the stairs, out the door and across the street. Then he waited for everyone to catch up,” defense lawyer Jeffrey Brown told Masslive.com.

Hernandez was the second defendant to be acquitted of the fatal shooting of Rodriguez after being convicted and sentenced to life at their first trials. They were granted new trials after witnesses recanted their testimony, saying they were pressured by police to lie.

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Codefendant Charles Wilhite was acquitted after his second trial in 2013. He sued the city for wrongful imprisonment and reached a $1.4 million settlement in 2016.

Brown said his client turned down a deal that would have allowed him to be sentenced to time served in exchange for pleading guilty to manslaughter.

“He maintained his innocence, and wouldn’t admit to something he didn’t do,” Brown said.