Tuesday, June 12, 2012 • 9:13 AM Comments ()

Wilhite Supporters Plan Vigil

posted by Maureen Turner

Supporters of Charles Wilhite plan a sunrise vigil at the Hampden County courthouse tomorrow, where they’ll call for his release from prison.

Wilhite and a co-defendant were convicted of first-degree murder in 2010 for the shooting death of a man named Alberto Rodriguez in 2008. But that conviction came under scrutiny after a witness who had testified that he had seen Wilhite shoot Rodriguez later testified that he had been lying. Wilhite’s attorney went to Superior Court seeking an overturning of the conviction or a new trial for his client. In April, Judge Peter Velis granted Wilhite a new trial.

Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni has yet to say publicly how he plans to proceed. Prior to that Velis’ ruling, Mastroianni told the Springfield Republican that his office wasn’t opposed to Wilhite’s seeking that hearing. “Let’s explore it . . . and see what the judge rules,” Mastroianni said at the time. “The system is doing just what the system is supposed to do for situations like this.”

The June 13 vigil is organized by Justice for Charles, a group formed by Wilhite’s family and friends as well as activists interested in the case. They will gather at the courthouse at 6 a.m. with candles. In an announcement of the event, organizers note that the date marks Wilhite’s 1,000th day of incarceration.

“It is the family’s hope that continuing to demonstrate in public about Charles’ case will help people realize that there is not one bit of evidence to tie Charles Wilhite to this case,” the announcement reads. “The best option seems to be for Mastroianni to drop the case against Charles and set him free.”

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