Angel Toro was convicted in 1982 of murdering a Howard Johnson Motel clerk during an armed robbery in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Toro, a guest at the motel, was identified by the bartender who was working at the time of the robbery. Two other witnesses identified him when he entered the establishment days after the robbery. During the trial, the prosecution highlighted that Toro had many guns in his room. However, it was never seen that any of these weapons were connected with the crime. A friend of Toro’s claimed that he would not have needed to steal the $385 that was taken that night due to his involvement with selling cocaine.
Toro was convicted largely on eyewitness testimony. The bartender from the motel identified Toro in both a police lineup and in court. However, the other two witnesses eventually admitted to Toro’s wife that they had lied about how Toro had looked when they originally identified. The witnesses told police that Toro was clean-shaven, when he actually had a beard. This was a key fact because another witness testified that the shooter had no beard. The witnesses claimed that they had done so due to threats from the police.
In 2004, Toro’s appellate attorney, Stephen Hrones, won a new trial motion based on the fact that Boston police failed to turn over a report to the defense that listed another possible suspect who was wanted for a similar crime. The district attorney decided not to retry Toro.