In June 1990, Felix Ayala was shot on a street in Bronx, New York. One month later, Frances Rosario, who claimed to have witnessed the shooting, identified 20-year-old Milton Lantigua as police were driving her around looking for the suspects.
At Lantingua’s trial, Rosario testified that she had been alone at the time of the shooting, which she saw from the window of her brother’s apartment, and that Lantigua was one of two men who shot the victim.
Defense witnesses, including Rosario’s family members, gave testimony that contradicted her account of the shooting.
Lantigua’s first trial ended in a hung jury. After Lantigua’s second trial in August 1993, at which no additional evidence was presented, a jury convicted him of second-degree murder and he was sentenced to 20-years-to-life in prison.
On appeal, it was disclosed that the prosecution failed to inform the defense that Rosario had recanted her identification before the second trial, and that the prosecution knowingly allowed Rosario to falsely testify that she had been alone at the time of the shooting.
In fact, Rosario had been with a man who had returned to the Dominican Republic sometime after the shooting. Lantigua’s conviction was vacated in June 1996, and he was granted a new trial. Prosecutors did not retry him.
In 2005, Lantigua settled a wrongful conviction lawsuit against the City of New York for $1.3 million
- Stephanie Denzel