This is the story of a how an innocent man was convicted––and then exonerated––of first degree murder. I was his appellate lawyer. I believe there are lessons to be learned from how he got convicted. And from how he was freed––all despite being completely innocent. This is the story of the case of Charles Wilhite.
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At approximately 9:00 PM on October 14, 2008, Alberto Rodriguez was shot in front of the Pine Street Market in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Market is pictured above. Alberto was in his car in front of the Market when he was shot. He would have been no more than a few feet from where this photo was taken.
The Pine Street Market is on the corner of Pine and Florence. The address is 194 Pine Street, Springfield, Massachusetts.
The victim’s car was parked in front of the Pine Street Market facing the wrong direction at the time of the shooting
The arrow in the above picture shows the position and direction of the victim's car in front of the Pine Street Market.
A Massachusetts State Police ballistics expert testified that the man who murdered Alberto Rodriguez fired four shots at him as Rodriguez drove away from the Pine Street Market.
The Massachusetts State Police ballistics expert believed that the first two shots went through the car’s driver’s side opera window. He testified that in his opinion the first shot broke the window and the second shot went through the broken window. The photo above shows a trajectory rod for the second shot going through the broken, driver’s side opera window.
The third bullet goes through the rear driver’s side support of the victim’s car as the car speeds away
The two bullets that went through the driver’s side opera window hit the driver’s seat––and one of the bullets kills the victim
The bullet that hit the left headrest post in the above-picture richocheted almost directly downward. The other bullet hole––the one in the center of the seat about an inch below the top of the seat––was the bullet that struck and ultimately killed the victim.