Eric Sarsfield

9 years
Eric Sarsfield, who was released on parole in June 1999, was exonerated in August 2000 after serving nine years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He was convicted of the 1986 rape of a Middlesex County woman. Despite the fact that a rape kit existed, the Commonwealth offered no physical evidence at trial to link Sarsfield to the crime, and its case depended almost entirely on the victim’s less-than-certain identification of her assailant. Attorney George Garfinkle, assigned pro bono to Sarsfield’s appeal, realized that proof of his innocence lay in the long-missing and presumably lost biological evidence. Garfinkle hired a private investigator, who tracked down the evidence to a cardboard box in the Middlesex court clerk’s office. In March 2000, DNA tests conducted on the clothing the victim wore at the time of the crime excluded Eric Sarsfield as the source of semen found on the clothing. Sarsfield’s motion for post-conviction relief on August 3, 2000 was granted. The District Attorney’s office declined to re-prosecute.

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© 2011 New England Innocence Project