Man convicted of 1979 murder freed from prison due to new evidence

WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - A Taunton man who was imprisoned for 35 years for a murder his attorneys say he did not commit has been set free thanks to new DNA evidence.

With a cousin to welcome him home, Gary Cifizzari, now 62, says he is going to try and catch up on everything he missed out on — which includes a trip to his mother’s grave, who passed away while he was behind bars for the 1979 murder of his great aunt.

Cifizzari was just 27-years-old when a judge convicted him of first-degree murder.

The conviction was built entirely on bite mark comparisons, a now-defunct practice.

The forensic dentist that sealed Cifizzari’s fate also retracted his testimony.

“That science was based on myths,” Cifizzari’s attorney Kirsten Mayer said. “Scientists used to think the world was flat, we know that is wrong now.”

The New England Innocence Project reopened Cifizzari’s case with the help of pro-bono attorneys from Ropes and Gray.

Mayer had DNA tested from the victim’s nightgown and say those results proved Cifizzari was not the killer.

The attorneys asked the judge to let the man go free until his conviction is vacated and a new trial could be scheduled.

“What was critical for us was that Mr. Cifizzari’s release should not be delayed while the Commonwealth conducts an investigation now into a murder that occurred in 1979,” Mayer said.

“We are grateful that he is finally going to get to see his mother’s grave,” Radha Natarajan of the Innocence Project said outside the courthouse. “The person that supported him, the person that knew he was innocent.”

Despite his offer of freedom, Cifizzari has been ordered to wear a GPS ankle bracelet, check in with his probation officer on a weekly basis and adhere to a sun-up to sunset curfew.

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