Exonerated on August 20, 1982
In February 1980, Christian Amado was convicted of the first-degree murder of George Sneed on the steps of an apartment house in the Roxbury section of Boston. Frederick Johnson, who was waiting in the stairwell for someone to answer a doorbell, saw the perpetrator pull a rifle from underneath his coat, shoot Sneed, and run. Police were unable to locate any witnesses on the day of the shooting. A week later, Johnson was called to the police station where he was shown a set of photographs and found one of Amado “familiar”.
At trial, the detectives who had interviewed Johnson said that he had given them the name of the assailant. However, also at trial, Johnson said that he did not recognize the assailant as someone he had seen before. Johnson said he was “positive” the defendant was not guilty. Despite these assertions, Amado was found guilty, based on the officers’ testimony.
In August 1982, Amado’s conviction was reversed by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. The court held that the motion by the defense for a required finding of not guilty at the close of the trial should have been granted, and that evidence was insufficient to sustain a guilty verdict. Amado was released after serving two years in prison.