State of Conviction: Illinois
Wrongful Conviction: Murder
Exonerated Date: 1995
Years Served: 10
Rolando was sentenced to death for the murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico. Another man, Brian Dugan, who had already pled guilty to two rapes and murders, authorized his lawyer to tell the prosecutors that he killed Jeanine. Rolando was convicted at a second trial in 1990, at which Dugan did not testify. In 1994, the state Supreme Court overturned Cruz’s second conviction. An assistant state attorney general resigned because she thought the evidence showed Rolando was innocent and thought it wrong to pursue the prosecution. Other law enforcement officials also protested the continued efforts to prosecute him. Finally, Rolando was acquitted at his retrial in 1995. The judge did not even wait for the defense to put on its case before entering a directed verdict of not guilty. Three prosecutors and four law enforcement officers involved with the Rolando’s prosecution were indicted for obstruction of justice in this case.
Source: Death Penalty Information Center