Boston Globe
 March 17, 1990 

 Doris Sue Wong, Globe Staff 

 Louis Santos, who spent three years in prison for a murder he always 
 insisted he did not commit, was acquitted yesterday by a Suffolk County jury 
 in his second trial for the 1983 robbery and fatal shooting of a social 
 worker in Dorchester.

 After Superior Court Judge Robert Banks declared that Santos was free to 
 leave, he embraced his lawyer, Peter J. Muse and, with tears welling in 
 his eyes, walked away from the defense table and into the outstretched 
 arms of his mother, sister and brother. The 12-member jury, after 
 deliberating three days, acquitted Santos of first-degree murder, assault, 
 and armed robbery charges.

 Outside the courtroom, her voice trembling, Santos' mother, Annette, said, 
 "I thank God it's over. I am bitter; I was very bitter. But just basically 
 I thank God it's over."

 Santos, 26, of Dorchester, was too overcome with emotion to speak.

 But his older brother, Melvin, exploded in anguish: "Tell the . . . to go 
 find the killers now. They kept my family hostage for seven years. They 
 held him for seven years and he can never get that back."

 Santos was accused of being one of three assailants who robbed social 
 worker Colleen Maxwell at gunpoint as she escorted a resident of a group 
 home for mentally handicapped adults to the Massachusetts Bay 
 Transportation Authority's Ashmont Station in Dorchester on Oct. 28, 1983. 
 After the resident, Charles Bartick, now 39, was struck on the head and 
 began bleeding, Maxwell, 32, ran back to the Van Winkle House to summon 
 help and get her car to chase the assailants.

 Maxwell was shot as she tried to cut off the suspects on Mercier Avenue.

 Santos was arrested about seven minutes later nearly a mile away from the 
 shooting scene.

 He was convicted in 1985 and had served three years of a life prison term 
 when the Supreme Judicial Court in 1988 threw out his conviction and 
 ordered a new trial.

 The SJC found that the judge who presided over the first trial should not 
 have admitted into evidence Bartick's identification of Santos in an 
 police station interrogation room. The SJC said the identification was 
 unduly suggestive because Santos was the only black man who was not in a 
 police uniform in the room.

 Following yesterday's verdict, Santos, his family and a half-dozen 
 supporters stood in a circle outside the courtroom, linked hands and 
 prayed, "We thank you God for a new life. We ask you to put forgiveness in 
 our hearts."

 The anger, however, still lingered.

 Annette Santos blamed her son's ordeal on shoddy police work, while Rev. 
 Graylan Ellis-Hagler, pastor of the Church of the United Community in 
 Roxbury, lambasted Suffolk District Attorney Newman Flanagan for 
 prosecuting Santos.

 "I think it sends out a very strong message that this district attorney is 
 incompetent, ineffective and callous," Ellis-Hagler said. "That a young 
 man could be held for seven years in a case like this is an utter sin."

 Said Annette Santos: "The police didn't do no work. They went for black 
 kids and they got the first black kids they saw."

 A spokesman for Flanagan and assistant district attorney Daniel Mullane, 
 who prosecuted the second trial, declined comment.

 Santos' lawyer, Peter J. Muse, said he was delighted for the family but 
 declined to assign blame. "It's one that slipped through the cracks," Muse 

 Without any apparent witnesses to the shooting, the case against Santos 
 rested heavily on the testimony of two high school students who rode in a 
 police cruiser to help search for suspects and identified Santos as one of 
 three youths they saw run from Mercier Avenue after shots were fired.

 At the retrial, Muse suggested that the identifications of Santos by the 
 two witnesses, William Marinelli and Kevin Hagberg, were tainted because 
 they followed a highly emotional and suggestive chain of events.

 There was evidence that Marinelli and Hagberg identified Santos after they 
 saw Maxwell lying on the ground dying from a gunshot wound, heard police 
 radio communications that a suspect was being chased and then saw the 
 suspect, Santos, being led out of a three-decker in handcuffs.

 According to testimony, however, Santos did not fit the descriptions 
 Marinelli and Hagberg provided to police.

 Marinelli and Hagberg said all three youths were ages 13 or 14 and one was 
 wearing a blue corduroy jacket. At the time of his arrest, Santos was 20 
 and wearing a blue windbreaker.

 Two other witnesses who also apparently saw the same three black youths 
 running near the shooting scene had described them in court as "munchkins" 
 and "very young."

 Santos, who testified in his own defense, said he was in Evans Park 
 playing basketball and buying and selling marijuana at the time the crimes 
 were committed.

 Santos said he ran from the park when a cruiser searching for shooting 
 suspects pulled up because he had marijuana in his jacket. When police 
 returned to the area where Santos said he had discarded the marijuana, no 
 drugs were found.

 Santos' medical records also revealed he took medication and had been 
 hospitalized several times throughout his life for chronic asthma, raising 
 the question of whether he was physically capable of running the 7/8-mile 
 up hilly streets between Mercier Avenue and Evans Park in seven minutes.