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Alfred Rivera

Other North Carolina Exonerations
On March 22, 1996, Michael Nicholson and James Smith, both drug dealers, were shot dead in Nicholson’s apartment in Forsyth County, North Carolina.  Several men had been at Nicholson’s house that day to collect money that he owed one of them.  Two of them, Milton Hauser and JaHen Marlin, told police that Alfred Rivera had been with them that day, and that he had killed Nicholson and Smith.  Rivera was indicted for two counts of first-degree murder on October 7, 1996. 
 
Rivera was tried in October, 1997.  The prosecution based its case on the testimony of Hauser, Marlin, and three teenagers who claimed to have seen Rivera enter Nicholson’s apartment shortly before the murders.  The teenagers were all granted lenience on unrelated charges in exchange for their testimony.  The defense argued that Rivera had not been at Nicholson’s apartment that day, and that he had been framed for the murder by the actual killer.  Rivera’s defense attorney attempted to introduce testimony from a prison inmate who claimed to have had a conversation with Antonio Bryant, who the defense claimed was the actual murderer.  According to the inmate, Bryant had said he had “two dudes” who were going to blame Rivera for the murders.  However, the judge would not allow this testimony to be presented at trial.  On October 6, 1997, Rivera was found guilty and sentenced to death.
 
On April 9, 1999, the North Carolina Supreme Court ordered a new trial for Rivera because the trial judge had wrongly excluded testimony from the witness who claimed that Bryant spoke to him about a conspiracy to frame Rivera. The court also found that the prosecution had made a closing argument that improperly disparaged Rivera's defense attorney.   At Rivera's second trial, the testimony about the conspiracy to frame him was presented andon November 22, 1999, he was acquitted of all charges and released from prison.

In 2001, Rivera was found guilty in U.S. District Court in Greensboro, North Carolina, of trafficking crack cocaine and was sentenced to life in prison.
 
- Alexandra Gross

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 8/23/2016
State:North Carolina
County:Forsyth
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1996
Convicted:1997
Exonerated:1999
Sentence:Death
Race:Hispanic
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:25
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No