‘It’s over’; Rochester man’s murder conviction vacated after decades in prison

Murder Conviction Vacated

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A man who spent three decades in prison for a Rochester murder is completely free.

After 37 years in prison, the court threw out the murder conviction against Michael Rhynes and sealed the original murder indictment against him.

The reason is that two men who testified that Rhynes killed Enrico Ferrari and Robert Hurysz in a bar in 1984 admitted they lied. When Rhynes walked out of Judge Miller’s courtroom Monday morning, his daughter announced the case is over.

“What’s the news?” asked one person.

“It’s over!” said Michelle Miller.

Rhynes was hugged by people who helped champion his case. Just prior to Christmas, Rhynes was released from Attica prison while the court anticipated Monday’s hearing.

Monday morning, Rhynes’ lawyers asked the court to dismiss the conviction. The Monroe County district attorney’s office didn’t object. Judge Miller agreed.

In 1986, two men in prison testified Rhynes shot and killed Ferrari and Hurysz in what Rochester police called a botched robbery at a bar. In subsequent years, those witnesses said they lied to reduce their own prison sentences. I spoke with Rhynes after his court hearing.

News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: “Michael, how do you feel?”

Michael Rhynes, murder conviction vacated: “Fine. Absolutely wonderful.”

Brean: “What are the feelings you are experiencing right now?”

Rhynes: “Joy. That ain’t enough for you?”

The motion by Rhynes’ lawyers asked the court to vacate the murder conviction and then declare Rhynes’ innocent. While Judge Miller threw out the conviction and sealed the indictment, he did not declare Rhynes’ innocent.

The granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Enrico Ferrari were waiting outside the courtroom Monday morning.

“This has been a 40 year trial. There are three people that are still in jail,” said Elizabeth Ferrari-Wiberg, Ferrari’s granddaughter. “This wasn’t an admission of innocence. It’s just that there isn’t enough evidence.”

Ferrari-Wiberg was holding a poster of photos that included Ferrari’s picture and those of his family, children and grandchildren, some of whom were born after he was killed. The poster asked a provocative question: “Who killed him?”

State prison records show there are still three people in prison for the murders of Enrico Ferrari and Robert Hurysz. They were all convicted before Rhynes.

Since 1986, Rhynes appealed multiple times. They were all denied until this last one.

Rhynes went into prison at 25.

He’s 62 now.