New York Times, May 20, 1926, pg. 27
LIFE CONVICT NOW PROVES INNOCENCE
TRENTON, N.J., May 19 -- Rafael E, Morello, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife in Essex County eight years ago, has received his freedom here because he was convicted of a crime which he did not commit, although the conviction was upon his own testimony. The circumstances in which he was paroled recently became known publicly today when Governor Moore decided to lift the veil of secrecy from the proceedings of the Court of Pardons.
Morello, one of forty-two prisoners paroled, had been in the United States only a short time and had not learned to express himself clearly in English when he was drafted for service in the army early in 1918. He had been married only a few months. His young wife, it was said, threatened to commit suicide if he left her for service in the war.
Notice came for Morello to report to the draft board. Mrs. Morello pleaded with him not to go. He was firm in the declaration that he must.
One day before his expected departure two pistol shots were heard in their home. The police found Mrs. Morello dead and Morello lying wounded beside her.
Admission of Responsibility.
Morello was arrested and charged with murder and attempted suicide. He admitted at the coroner's inquest in broken English that he was responsible for her death, and in a higher court a few weeks later he was convicted.
Two years ago when Morello had learned English well he told his story to welfare workers, and, it was said, they were amazed. They investigated it, seeing friends and relatives and officials and eventually with the recommendations of all they presented it to the Board of Parole.
Morello had not killed his wife, this later inquiry showed. She had committed suicide and he in his grief had attempted to commit suicide. It was said also that he had not admitted in his broken English that he was responsible for her death, but had sought to tell the Court that his insistence on going to war was responsible. This, it was said, was mistaken for a confession of murder.