A national database, which focuses on wrongful convictions, includes a 1994 arson case out of Haddam. There are currently 894 exonerations listed on the website with 7 cases from Connecticut, including this one from Haddam.
According to records from the case, a fleet of 15 Haddam-Killingworth school buses was set on fire, resulting in $500,000 of damage. 18-year-old David Saraceno, who had a prior record of vandalism and arson, was brought in for questioning. Saraceno eventually confessed to the crime after a ten-hour interrogation. He then recanted, citing that he “only confessed to make the police stop the interrogation.”
Sacaceno’s attorney filed a motion to suppress the confession, which prosecutors appealed. The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the confession was admissible and in June of 1998, a jury convicted Saraceno of arson for the 1994 crime.
Saraceno’s attorney obtained evidence that the persecution had concealed the identity of the actual arsonists. His attorney was able to present a sworn affidavit from one of the actual arsonists, implicating himself and three others.
Prosecutors and the defense team sought a reversal of Saraceno’s conviction, which was granted in 1999. Saraceno did plead guilty to obstructing justice for giving a false confession and was given a 5 year suspended sentence.
But, because of the five-year statute of limitation, the real arsonists were never charged in the case.
According to the website, the National Registry of Exonerations is a joint project of the University of the Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law.
The website has maintained an up to date list of all known exonerations in the United States since 1989.