Roberto Anel Diaz Morales, sentenced in 2001 to 172 years in prison for taking part in a fatal assault on a young nurse, was freed after the Puerto Rican Supreme Court overturned his conviction.
Diaz Morales spent the last 10 years of his life fighting to prove his innocence in the case of nurse Kenia Rosario, who was raped, tortured and burned by four individuals including her ex-boyfriend, a former prison guard.
Rosario later died of her injuries.
The agony Diaz Morales went through ended May 9 when the Puerto Rican Supreme Court issued an order for his release after reviewing the errors committed in his trial.
"We have reasonable doubt and our duty is to pardon," Judge Fiol Matta said to justify his release.
Diaz Morales' story goes back to 2001 when he was studying accounting at the University of Turabo.
On Oct. 28, five days after the assault on Rosario, Diaz Morales bought a cell phone from Irving Daniel Carrasquillo, a heroin addict implicated in the crime.
The phone Diaz Morales bought had belonged to Rosario, although, he said, the addict who sold it to him for $5 told him it belonged to one of his sisters.
Police traced the telephone and when they called the number, Diaz Morales answered.
Though the cops, according to Diaz Morales, told him they knew he was not implicated in the crime, they asked him to identify the person who had sold him the cell phone.
But Diaz Morales was unable to do so when they showed him a photo of Carrasquillo, saying that he didn't particularly notice the face of the person who sold him the phone, which led to his implication in the crime. He was helped, however, by the testimony of another of the suspects, also a drug addict.
After several appeals by Diaz Morales' defense attorneys, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico finally reviewed the case and determined his innocence. EFE