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Ropes & Gray and New England Innocence Project File Motion for New Trial for Massachusetts Man Wrongfully Convicted of Murder

Practices: Litigation Tags: Pro Bono

The New England Innocence Project and a Ropes & Gray litigation team working on a pro bono basis today announced that they have filed a motion for a new trial for Gary Cifizzari in the Worcester County Superior Court. Along with his brother, Mr. Cifizzari was wrongfully convicted of the 1979 murder of his great aunt, 75-year-old Concetta Schiappa. Now, newly discovered and tested DNA evidence developed from the semen and saliva on the victim’s nightgown exonerates Mr. Cifizzari and identifies the real perpetrator of the crime.

The legal team’s motion outlines how the DNA evidence run through the CODIS DNA database conclusively identifies Michael Giroux as the killer. Mr. Giroux, now deceased, was the original suspect in the case, but he was never charged and went on to commit other serious crimes. Neither Mr. Cifizzari nor his brother had any connection to Mr. Giroux, and they were convicted for a crime they did not commit. Mr. Cifizzari has now spent more than 35 years in prison, and his brother died in prison before the new DNA evidence could exonerate him.

The motion filed today also explains how the Commonwealth of Massachusetts based its case against Mr. Cifizzari on flawed bitemark comparison testimony, which the forensic odontologist community has since condemned as lacking any scientific basis. In addition, the motion details how one of the Commonwealth’s original experts, Dr. Richard Souviron, has since recanted the testimony he offered at Mr. Cifizzari’s trial. That testimony was used to convict him.

The Ropes & Gray litigation team representing Mr. Cifizzari is led by litigation & enforcement partner Kirsten Mayer, and includes counsel Kevin Angle and associates Marc Roitman, Yana Grishkan, Christine D’Auria, Cole Goodman, Hannah Vail, Roy Dixon, and Alyssa Fixsen.

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