In August 1994, a fleet of buses in Haddam, Connecticut was set on fire, causing more than $500,000 in damage.
Police suspected arson and questioned 18-year-old David Saraceno, who had a record as a teenager for vandalism and arson.
After a ten hour interrogation, Saraceno confessed to the crime. He quickly recanted, saying police threatened him and that he only confessed to make the police stop the interrogation.
Saraceno’s attorney filed a motion to suppress the confession, which he initially won. However, prosecutors appealed that ruling and in 1997, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled the confession was admissible.
In June 1998, a jury convicted Saraceno of arson. Before Saraceno was sentenced, however, his attorney obtained new evidence that two other men were the actual arsonists. Saraceno’s attorney presented the court with a sworn affidavit from one of the arsonists implicating himself and three others, but not Saraceno, in the fire.
Prosecutors joined the defense in seeking to vacate Saraceno’s conviction. The motion was granted and the conviction was vacated in 1999. In a plea agreement with the prosecution, however, Saraceno pled guilty to obstructing justice for giving a false confession, and was given a 5 year suspended sentence.
The real arsonists were never charged, because the five year statute of limitations had passed.