april, 8 source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk
A man who testified against his father when he was seven years old is proclaiming his innocence and campaigning for his release – 23 years after he was sentenced to life in prison.
Jerry Michael Burgos, now 29, was called to the witness stand to give evidence against his father in 1989.
Jerry Burgos, who was 29 at the time, was charged with strangling his wife Nilsa – who was seven months pregnant – and setting their Polk Township, Pennsylvania, house on fire in an attempt to cover up the crime.
Campaign: Jerry Michael Burgos, right, and his brother Jason, left, are starting a Facebook group to proclaim the innocence of their father Jerry, centre
When investigators asked the boy what had happened on that fatal night, he said: ‘My dad took me and my brother out of the house and put us in his truck,’ according to the New York Post.
Burgos had told jurors that thick smoke engulfed their home and that he had managed to save his two sons from the blaze – but not his wife.
But the boy could not remember seeing signs of a fire, which allowed prosecutors to use his testimony to discredit his father’s.
The father-of-two had purchased a $75,000 life insurance policy four months before his wife’s death so prosecutors had reason to believe he had committed the crime.
The couple were also said to be involved with other lovers, which gave jurors another motive for the murder.
In 1989 Burgos was sentenced to the electric chair and found guilty of murder, arson and abuse of a corpse.
But Jerry Michael does not believe his father committed the crime. ‘I never hated my dad. I never felt like he did this,’ he told the New York Post. ‘I was always happy to see him when we went to trial.’
‘I feel like parents are a little bit of us. I really don’t think he did it. I can’t see myself doing it, and I couldn’t see him doing it either,’ he added.
The case that has been plagued by controversies went to retrial in 1993 because Burgos’s lawyer argued that prosecutors improperly used Jerry Michael’s testimony. But the second jury still found Burgos guilty.
Then, in 2004, Burgos’s attorney Philip Lauer won an appeal to test for genetic clues, as the previous trials had relied mainly on circumstantial evidence and had ignored DNA testing.
‘It seems like its standard fare in every case that everything gets tested, but in rural counties that isn’t the case,’ Lauer told the New York Post.
But even though a t-shirt found inside Nilsa’s body bag revealed somebody else’s DNA, it was not enough to overturn the verdict.
Now Jerry Michael and his brother Jason are creating a Facebook page to raise awareness about their father’s case.
‘I love my mom, but I also lost my dad,’ Jerry Michael said. ‘I really don’t think he did it. I’m 99.9 percent sure that he didn’t do it. There’s no way.’