A man who claims retired Chicago detective Reynaldo Guevara framed him for a 1993 murder had his conviction overturned today by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Geraldo Iglesias, who spent 17 years in prison, is the 10th Guevara defendant to have his conviction overturned since April 2017, when BuzzFeed News published an investigation in which more than 50 people accused him of framing them for murders they say they didn’t commit.
“I knew I was innocent,” Iglesias told BuzzFeed News today. “It was just trying to get someone to listen to me.”
Moments before a judge sentenced him in 1995, Iglesias told the court: “I would like to say that I apologize and I’m sorry for what happened to the young lady and I send my condolences to the family but I would like to say I had nothing to do with it and the Lord knows I had nothing to do with it.”
Iglesias was released in from prison in 2010, but had been fighting to clear his name of the murder charge, which kept popping up during job interviews and housing searches. Initially, the State’s Attorney’s Office had fought to keep the conviction on the books, but in a statement to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday, a spokesperson wrote: “We no longer have confidence in the integrity of this case. Therefore, in the interest of justice, the State’s Attorney’s Office will not pursue charges.”
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Iglesias’s conviction hinged on the testimony of a jailhouse informant who allegedly told Guevara and his partner, Ernest Halvorsen, that Iglesias had confessed the murder to him. That jailhouse informant, Francisco Vicente, told police that he had allegedly received five separate confessions in three separate murder cases over the span of six weeks in 1993. Vicente has since given sworn statements claiming police fed him details of the crimes and coerced his false testimony.
Attorneys for Guevara and Halvorsen did not respond to requests for comment. In the past, Guevara has asserted his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination when asked to testify about his conduct. His attorney has also said in the past that the allegations against him are part of a gang conspiracy.
In Iglesias’s case, Vicente claimed that while he and Iglesias were awaiting transportation to court, Vicente began discussing the murder of Monica Roman, who was killed while sitting in a car in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. Vicente testified that Iglesias responded by saying, “I shot the bitch in the head.”
Iglesias, who had been working as a gang interventionist with the Boys & Girls Club, did not match the description of the shooter eyewitnesses gave to police. Vicente’s statement also said that multiple other people accompanied the killer. Witnesses told the first responders on the scene that the shooter was a teen, light complexioned, and alone. Iglesias was 25 at the time and brown-skinned.
Iglesias was the last man whose conviction still stood based on Vicente’s statements. Last August, prosecutors dropped charges against Robert Bouto, who had served 22 years in prison for the murder of a 15-year-old outside a Chicago high school. Bouto did not match the description of the killer. He also had two alibi witnesses who attested that Bouto was kissing his girlfriend in an alleyway near the high school when they heard the fatal shots.
In July 2016, Jose Montanez and Armando Serrano walked out of prison, each having spent 23 years behind bars, for the 1993 murder of a factory worker sitting in his van. Vicente had claimed that Montanez and Serrano had confessed to him. He testified that the men made their statements while hanging out on a freezing street corner for hours in front of a busy school, where there would have been plenty of witnesses to the confession. An appellate court said the case included “profoundly alarming acts of misconduct” in the investigation and prosecution of the case.
Montanez and Serrano have filed federal civil rights lawsuits against the city of Chicago, Cook County, and authorities who handled the case, alleging that they were framed.
At least 17 more Guevara defendants who claim the detective framed them are still behind bars.