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Detective Guevara takes the Fifth

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The Sun-Times reports [2] that former detective Reynaldo Guervara repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment in a hearing on a motion to overturn the murder convictions of two men.

A plaintiffs’ attorney told reporters Guevara has tainted several local cases — in terms of quantity, making disgraced police commander Jon Burge “look like small potatoes.”

There’s lots more to the Guevara story.

In June 2009, Newstips reported [3] on a unique “patterns and practices” claim made in by lawyers representing Gabriel Solache, who was sentenced to life in prison following a 2000 murder conviction based on Guevara’s investigation.

While such claims — charging the Chicago Police Department with failing to rein in  police misconduct — are generally based on departmental patterns, this one was based solely on charges of misconduct against a single detective: Reynaldo Guevara.

Solache’s motion included trial testimony and depositions alleging 40 instances of misconduct by Guevara alone, including violence, threats of criminal charges, and threats to parents that their children would be taken by DCFS.  Solache’s case went to trial last month.

That post also cited an FBI report in which an informant charged that Guevara took money to fix murder cases.  Details here [3].

In November 2009, Newstips gave the backstory [4] to the order for a new trial for Salvador Ortiz, who’d spent 17 years in prison for a 1992 murder conviction in which all known witnesses had recanted their identification of him.

Community activists maintain that Ortiz was set up for the murder charge after he told attorneys in 1991 that Guevara had induced him to identify Juan Johnson as the perpetrator of a 1989 murder.  Johnson’s conviction in that case was thrown out in 2004 — after he’d served 11 years in prison.

Last month the Sun-Times called for an investigation [5] into Guevara by the state’s attorney’s conviction integrity unit.

In response, David Protess of the Chicago Innocence Project wrote [6] that the state’s attorney’s office “has proven not to be the solution.”  State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has termed the charge against Guevara “ridiculous,” he notes.  In another post [7], Protess details prosecutor’s successful efforts to block the testimony of the murder victim’s widow, who now says Guevara lied to her.

Says Protess: “It’s time for journalists and others outside the justice system to dig deeper into the Guevara cases and unearth the truth.”

It’s also worth noting the years of work by Comite Exigimos Justicia on behalf of Guevara’s victims.  Here’s a Newstip from 2003 [8] on their campaign, and a more recent article [9] from Fight Back News.