Richard Rosario, wrongly convicted man, stuns judge at hearing

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Conviction Episode 12: Video Extra

A Bronx man who served 20 years in prison for a murder that more than a dozen alibi witnesses say he could not have committed threw a wrench Friday into plans to dismiss the case against him.

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Richard Rosario, over the objections of prosecutors, asked the court not to drop the charges until a full investigation could be done that exonerates him.

"It's clear that I'm innocent," he said. "I've been in prison for 20 years saying that I'm innocent. I've been transparent and forthcoming with information to prove my innocence. And it seems that the NYPD and the DA's office position is that the truth doesn't matter."

"The public should know the truth," he said.

Photos from the case:

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Richard Rosario, Wrongly Convicted Man, Stuns Judge
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Richard Rosario, Wrongly Convicted Man, Stuns Judge
FILE- In this March 23, 2016 file photo, Richard Rosario, center, is joined by his daughter Amanda, right, son Richard Jr., left, and wife Minerva as he leaves Bronx state Supreme Court in New York after his conviction was overturned. Rosario, who spent 20 years in prison for a killing he says happened while he was in Florida asked a judge Friday, June 24, 2016 to keep his case open so he could be fully vindicated. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
FILE- In this March 23, 3016 file photo, Richard Rosario, center, and his lawyers Glenn Garber, right, and Rebecca Freedman, of the Exoneration Initiative, listen as a judge sitting in New York overturns Rosario's conviction. Rosario, who spent 20 years in prison for a killing he says happened while he was in Florida, asked a judge on Friday, June 24, 2016 to keep his case open so he could be fully vindicated. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
Richard Rosario, center, is hugged by his lawyers Rebecca Freedman, left, and Glenn Garber, of the Exoneration Initiative, after a judge overturns his conviction, Wednesday, March 23, 2016, in New York. The judge overturned Rosario's murder conviction and freed him while prosecutors reinvestigate his 1996 case. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Richard Rosario, center, is joined by his daughter Amanda, right, and wife Minerva as he leaves Bronx state Supreme Court after his conviction was overturned, Wednesday, March 23, 2016, in New York. The judge overturned Rosario's murder conviction and freed him while prosecutors reinvestigate his 1996 case. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
This July 2015 photo provided by the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision shows Richard Rosario who has served 20 years in prison for a shooting despite the fact that he gave police the names of 13 people who could vouch he was in Florida when the shooting happened. Prosecutors now plan to ask a judge Wednesday, March 23, 2016, to overturn Rosario's murder conviction and free him as they reinvestigate his case. His attorneys call it an illustration of unreliable eyewitness testimony and ineffective defense. (Department of Corrections and Community Supervision via AP)
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The stunned judge asked Rosario if he was sure this is what he wanted.

Watch the full series from Dateline

"Mr. Rosario, you realize that by doing this you are asking to keep a murder indictment against you," said Bronx Supreme Court Justice Robert Torres. "This is a very unusual application."

But Rosario insisted he wanted to be proven innocent. So the judge asked both prosecutors and Rosario's lawyers for written arguments — leaving the case, at least through Aug. 30, in limbo.

Rosario had been released a month earlier after Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said he had not gotten a fair trial for the 1996 murder of 17-year-old Jorge Collazo. She said Rosario's defense attorneys had not done enough to track down his alibi witnesses.

The decision appeared to close the book on a torturous case that that was chronicled in "Conviction," a streaming documentary series produced by Dateline NBC that, among other things, tracked down most of the 13 witnesses who confirmed Rosario was more than 1,000 miles away in Florida when Collazo was gunned down on a Bronx street.

Rosario's conviction was vacated in March the day after the documentary went online.

"I've been in prison for 20 years for a crime I didn't commit, "Rosario said at the time. "My family didn't deserve this. I didn't deserve this, and nor does the family of the victim."

At that point, Rosario had already served 20 years of a 25-to-life sentence for the Collazo murder.

The Bronx DA's office had long resisted revisiting the case and Rosario's conviction had been upheld many times by appellate courts. But Clark began looking into the case even before she took office in January and dispatched investigators to Florida to check out Rosario's alibis.

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