DNA evidence exonerates man who spent 35 years behind bars for murder, lawyers say

"For the last 35 years, he has been confined to a prison cell, without family, without friends for a crime he didn't commit," said Radha Natarajan, of The New England Innocence Project.

May 31, 2019

MILFORD, Mass. —

Lawyers for a Taunton man who has spent 35 years in prison for the murder of his great aunt are asking for a new trial to vacate his conviction.

Gary Cifizzari, 62, was convicted in 1984 in the death of 75-year-old Concetta Schiappa, who was raped and murdered in Milford in 1979.

During the trial, experts testified Cifizzari's dental imprint matched bite marks found on the victim's body.

Cifizarri's lawyers said Friday that bite mark comparison evidence that the prosecution presented, which placed Cifizarri at the murder scene, was inconclusive and the standards for relying on dental implant evidence has changed.

"For the last 35 years, he has been confined to a prison cell, without family, without friends for a crime he didn't commit," said Radha Natarajan, of The New England Innocence Project.

Newly tested DNA evidence from the murder scene, including semen and saliva found on the victim's nightgown, excludes Gary Cifizzari, his attorneys said.

"This was a gruesome, sexually violent murder, and there was evidence on the victim's night gown -- semen and saliva -- that semen and saliva was tested for DNA. That semen and saliva conclusively excluded Gary Cifizzari," Natarajan said

Natarajan said the new evidence identifies Michael Giroux as the perpetrator of the crime through a CODIS DNA match.

Giroux, who died in 2014, was originally a suspect in the case and questioned by police, but was never charged.

Cifizzari's brother, Michael Cifizzari, was also convicted in Schiappa's death, however he died in prison.

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