Michael Rhynes back in court Jan. 8; attorney anticipates case will be dismissed
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — For the first time in 37 years, a Rochester man will celebrate Christmas at home with family.
Michael Rhynes has been in prison since 1986 on a murder conviction.
But on Tuesday, he was released from Attica Correctional Facility when a judge threw out the verdict after the two main witnesses admitted they lied.
Rhynes had been convicted of murder after a botched robbery at a bar in Rochester. He was convicted primarily on the testimony of two men who were already in jail. Multiple appeals were rejected. But in the last 12 months, both men admitted they lied. Judge Stephen Miller threw out the verdict and ordered Rhynes released after his attorneys made a bail application.
The case is not completely done. Even though Rhynes was released, there is still an open indictment against him.
News10NBC spoke with his lawyer, who hopes and anticipates that a hearing on Jan. 8 will close the case for good.
“When a conviction is vacated, it means that the person goes back, legally, to where they were before a jury rendered a verdict. So there hasn’t been a finding, the case has not been dismissed – yet – and the options are essentially for there to be a retrial of the case from 40 years ago, or not,” said attorney Pierre Sussman.
He indicated they’re hopeful the prosecutors will dismiss the matter. “We are very hopeful, and I think we have reason to be hopeful,” he said.
Rhynes’ sister Petronia says she is rejoicing after her brother’s release from prison. She said she forgives the men who testified against him.