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Latino Group to Discuss Wrongful Convictions

With recent expert testimony before Gov. Ryan’s clemency board supporting their claim of a pattern of suspect investigative practices in murder cases involving CPD Detective Reynaldo Guevara, Comite Exigimos Justicia (“We Demand Justice”) is holding a forum on wrongful convictions Sunday, January 12 at 2 p.m. at San Lucas Church, 2914 W. North.

Angel Rodriguez, whose murder conviction was overturned in 2000 with CEJ’s support, is among the speakers. Rolando Cruz and other victims of wrongful convictions have been invited.

In the clemency hearings, the Mexican consulate consulted Dr. Thomas Streed, a former homicide detective and expert on investigative techniques, on the cases of two Mexican nationals on Death Row. Streed also reviewed other cases involving Guevara.

Gabriel Solache was sentenced to death for a 1998 murder, his conviction based on his own confession, obtained by Guevara, with no physical evidence linking him to the crime. Streed found that “the circumstances surrounding Solache’s confession would likely have led an innocent person to confess.” Solache was denied sleep while being interrogated over 40 hours. His claims of beatings by Guevara are corroborated by medical evidence and by testimony of another suspect who was never charged. Streed noted that Guevara has been repeatedly accused of physical abuse and disciplined twice for beating civilians.

Though Solache does not speak English, he signed a confession which was dictated by Guevara in English to a state’s attorney who did not speak Spanish.

The 1985 case against Mario Flores “depended almost entirely on the questionable testimony of a single eyewitness,” with no physical evidence linking Flores, Streed said. Guevara disregarded procedures to guard against unreliable identification, and failed to interview other witnesses; contacted after the trial, several witnesses contradicted major points of the state’s witness. Streed also noted “the number of witnesses in other cases that reported that Detective Guevara pressured them into selecting a particular [suspect] during an identification process.”

While Death Row cases are receiving attention from the clemency board, CEJ is pressing for reviews of dozens of murder convictions that resulted in long prison sentences based on confessions or questionable eyewitness identifications obtained by Guevara and others at Chicago Police Area 5 headquarters in the absence of physical evidence. The group is also supporting clemency petitions by several individuals whose convictions were overturned.

Streed’s findings are “particularly relevant to other cases involving Guevara,” said Cathryn Crawford of Northwestern School of Law. Northwestern is providing investigative research to support attorneys and groups looking into charges of misconduct by Guevara and others at Area 5. Crawford is also scheduled to speak at the CEJ forum Sunday.

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Category: criminal justice, Latinos


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