Inmate cleared and freed after half his life in jail
July 23, 2002
BUFFALO, N.Y. - A 36-year-old man who spent almost half his life in prison on a murder charge has been released after having his conviction overturned.
Angelo Martinez sat down to a surf and turf dinner Monday, a half hour after he was freed. Martinez, of Brooklyn, was convicted in the 1985 murder of Rudolph Marasco outside a bingo hall in Queens.
"We're talking about someone who hasn't gone out to eat, hasn't had a home-cooked meal, hasn't had a moment of privacy" in 17 years, said Oscar Michelen, Martinez's defense attorney.
Another prisoner confessed to the murder about a decade ago, Michelen said. But authorities didn't believe Charles Rivera, a federal prisoner in the witness protection program, because he failed a lie detector test. Deeper investigation by the Queens district attorney's office later confirmed Rivera's confession that he killed Marasco as a favor to another man.
In June, a Queens judge threw out Martinez's murder conviction. Martinez then filed a $50 million lawsuit against the state, claiming he was unjustly convicted of the murder.
Martinez had also pleaded guilty to selling drugs while in prison and faced a 24-year sentence.
"His federal sentence got enhanced by the murder charge,"
Michelen said. Considering that murder charge was overturned, defense
attorneys and Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hochul agreed Martinez should
Everyone agreed it would be unfair to keep Martinez in prison until an official report could be filed in September, said Mark L. Potaschnick, another defense attorney. He was released on $10,000 bond.
Martinez is an articulate man who earned a GED and college credits while in prison, Michelen said.
His criminal defense attorneys are asking Martinez to work as a consultant explaining the prison system to clients facing jail.
"What other experience does he have? He can't even work in McDonalds," Michelen said.