Closing arguments in Charles Wilhite hearing - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Closing arguments in Charles Wilhite hearing

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Family and friends of Charles Wilhite have been waiting for almost a year to find out if Wilhite will get a new trial or if his conviction will be overturned. Closing arguments were made in court Monday in an evidentiary hearing about the convicted murderer's case. 

"I feel very hopeful," said Sheila Drungo, Wilhite's mother. "I think the lawyers made a good point of arguments and we feel very hopeful."

In September 2009, Wilhite was convicted for fatally shooting Springfield resident Alberto Rodriguez on Pine street in October of 2008. Wilhite was found guilty of first-degree murder in December 2010. Monday, Wilhite supporters gathered inside the Hampden County Hall of Justice as attorneys made their closing remarks before the court.

"What we've got is a life-without-parole murder conviction based on a recanted eyewitness testimony and perjury," said defense attorney David Lewis.

Lewis said an investigation shows that the prosecution's main witness, Nathan Perez, recanted his story. Perez was called to the stand earlier this month and Monday, Judge Peter Velis spoke about his credibility.

"So there's a little nexus here about his frame of mind in all of this, his acts at trial and his acts in this courtroom post-trial," he said.

Prosecutors still stood by their case and said a jury came to a verdict, even with the statement Perez has since recanted.

"(Perez) felt at the time of the trial that he thought it was the right thing to do," said assistant district attorney Bethany Lynch. "So, it seems to be a moving target as far as Mr. Perez is concerned, what the right thing to do is."

Wilhite's family will have to wait until Judge Velis decides what next steps, if any, will be taken to get justice for Wilhite.

"It's been a very long waiting game," Drungo said. "The family has been through so much. I know (Charles) has been taking it very hard but I know he's trying to stay strong."

Wilhite and his family will have to wait a little longer. Judge Velis is expected to make a ruling Friday, May 4, or Monday, May 7.  He will decide whether or not Wilhite will be granted a new trial or if his conviction will be overturned.

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