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Will Chicago Prosecutors Let Guevara’s Defendants Go?

Now that Detective Reynaldo Guevara has been discredited in court, what will the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office do with the dozens of people who say he framed them for murder?

Posted on January 22, 2018, at 9:02 a.m. ET

Top row, from left: Juan Johnson, Daniel Rodriguez, Antonio McDowell, Jose Montanez; Second row: Manuel Rivera, Angel Rodriguez, Roberto Almodovar; Third row: Armando Serrano, Jacques Rivera, Thomas Sierra, Jose Melendez.
Jon Lowenstein for BuzzFeed News; Courtesy Exoneration Project; Alyssa Schukar for BuzzFeed News

Top row, from left: Juan Johnson, Daniel Rodriguez, Antonio McDowell, Jose Montanez; Second row: Manuel Rivera, Angel Rodriguez, Roberto Almodovar; Third row: Armando Serrano, Jacques Rivera, Thomas Sierra, Jose Melendez.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge James Obbish did not mince words. During a hearing last month in a double murder case, the judge said retired Chicago police detective Reynaldo Guevara had told “bald-faced lies” about his investigation. Guevara, the judge added, had “now eliminated the possibility of being a credible witness in any proceeding.”

Prosecutors responded swiftly: They dismissed murder charges against the two men, Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes, releasing them from prison after 19 years.

But the judge’s words underscored a major problem for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. BuzzFeed News has found that at least 54 other people have also accused the disgraced detective, in court papers or interviews, of framing them.

If the judge’s words made it impossible to keep Solache and Reyes behind bars, what should the prosecutors do about all the others?

Kim Foxx, the newly installed state’s attorney, has assigned her top deputy to lead what she said would be a thorough review of Guevara cases. Earlier this month, her office dismissed charges against a Guevara defendant, Thomas Sierra, 11 days after a BuzzFeed News investigation detailed significant holes in Guevara’s case against him.

In total, 13 of the 56 Guevara defendants have been exonerated, including Roberto Almodovar, the imprisoned man profiled by BuzzFeed News last April. Another four defendants were acquitted at trial.

But that leaves at least 39 people — 38 men and one woman — who claim that they were unjustly convicted of murder, largely because of Detective Guevara.

So far, prosecutors have let those convictions stand — and in some cases have actively opposed the defendants' attempts to clear their names or win their freedom.

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The State’s Attorney’s Office said this week it is performing a case-by-case review of every Guevara conviction, but declined to comment further.

Guevara has consistently declined to comment on his police work, and when asked to do so in court or in depositions has repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

This week, two Guevara defendants, Ricardo Rodriguez and Johnny Flores — both of whom say they are innocent — will be in court for post-conviction hearings. These men, too, say Guevara framed them. Rodriguez was sentenced to 60 years in a 1995 killing of a homeless man. Flores was convicted in 1990 of murder. Rodriguez’s case is set for a hearing today; Flores is due back in court on Wednesday.

At least 17 more Guevara defendants have filed post-conviction petitions, and their cases are slowly making their way through the system. But more defendants haven’t even filed — or haven’t filed properly because they are representing themselves.

BuzzFeed News compiled its list of Guevara defendants by digging through decades' worth of court files and police records; knocking on doors in and around Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, where Guevara once patrolled; and interviewing dozens of attorneys and activists who tried for decades to ring the alarm about Guevara’s tactics. It is not a comprehensive list. BuzzFeed News is still uncovering more cases from Guevara’s 30-year career, during which he was known as one of the police department’s prolific “closers,” someone who was able to solve cases no one else could.

Many of the convicted defendants on this list — some of whom may in fact have committed the crimes for which they were charged — have made similar claims about Guevara’s methods. Thirty-seven men have alleged that the detective tampered with witnesses in their case, telling them whom to pick out of a lineup or pressuring them into identifying specific suspects, a major violation of police procedure.

Daniel Rodriguez, for example, was charged with being behind the wheel in a 1991 drive-by shooting. The state’s key witness testified at trial that Guevara pressured him to identify Rodriguez, but he was sentenced to 25 years anyway. He is still seeking to clear his name. “I’m OK,” he said earlier this month through tears. “I just want them to apologize to my daughters for taking me away from them.” When he returned home from prison, his baby girls had grown into young women.

Fifteen men claim that the detective beat them until they confessed. Another 14 say Guevara tricked or pressured them into signing false confessions, sometimes by promising they could go home if they acquiesced. Elvis Sanchez — who was 14 years old and unable to read or write when Guevara told him that if he signed this statement, he could go home — completed his sentence 16 years ago but asked a reporter, “Can you help me?” with the murder conviction that still mars his life, complicating his job and housing applications.

Jennifer Bonjean, a lawyer who has represented three Guevara defendants exonerated in the last 18 months, argued that any case that Guevara touched should get a new hearing.

And as for cases in which Guevara’s testimony is the bulk of the case, Bonjean said those “should be thrown out immediately.”


Guevara Defendants Still Serving Sentences

Eruby Abrego

Status: Incarcerated; 90-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

Witnesses to a gang shoot-out said the shooter was dark-skinned; Abrego is a white Latino. One of the survivors said in court papers that Guevara told him to select Abrego from the lineup. A girlfriend of a man who generally matched the witnesses' description testified that two days after the murder, her boyfriend confessed to killing a man. Abrego claims in court papers that one of Guevara’s colleagues punched him repeatedly, to the point that he vomited blood and falsely confessed to the murder.

David Colon

Status: Paroled; 50-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

Two brothers claim — in court papers and in interviews with BuzzFeed News — that Guevara pressured them into falsely identifying Colon as a killer.

Jose Cruz

Status: Incarcerated; 90-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

According to Cruz’s attorney, two witnesses to a murder described the shooter as black. Cruz is a Hispanic with a medium complexion. A third witness was shown a photo of Cruz on the night in question and didn’t select him. That witness only identified Cruz after the witness’s name and address were printed in the newspaper. This identification is the only evidence linking Cruz to the crime.

Edwin Davila

Status: Incarcerated; 50-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering, lineup manipulation

Davila claims, in a formal complaint against Guevara, that at his lineup the detective singled him out, telling him and no one else to lift up his shirt and reveal a tattoo. Two witnesses say that at the time of the murder for which Davila was convicted, he was on a pay phone, talking to his girlfriend.

Johnny Flores

Status: Incarcerated; 40-year sentence
Guevara's alleged misconduct: Lineup manipulation

Four months after the shooting of two men, Guevara claimed that gang members — he never named them — told him Flores was the shooter. According to court papers, Guevara showed the only known witness, who was alleged to have been drunk at the time of the shooting, a photo lineup and a live lineup. Flores was the only person to appear in both — a technique that is now linked with faulty identifications. His post-conviction petition is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday.

Adolfo Frias

Status: Incarcerated; 85-year-sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Beating, coerced confession

Frias said in an affidavit that Guevara, along with two other officers, beat him. When his nephew arrived at the station with Frias’s wife and child, Guevara allegedly beat Frias’s nephew, too. Frias said in the sworn statement that Guevara then warned him that his wife would be next if Frias didn’t confess. Guevara told Frias that he would send both him and his wife to prison and his child would be taken away, according to the affidavit. Frias said he agreed to tell the detective anything he wanted, and Guevara fed him information about the crime. Frias is currently awaiting DNA testing from the crime scene.

Ariel Gomez

Status: Paroled; 35-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witnesses tampering, suppressing evidence, beating, coerced statement

Three witnesses provided sworn statements that Guevara pressured them into identifying Gomez as the man who fired a bullet, killing a bystander. One of those witnesses said she told Guevara that a different person had fired the shot; she said Guevara told her that if she refused to recite what he told her, the investigation wouldn't be needing her testimony. A new analysis of the bullet trajectories proved that Gomez couldn’t have fired the deadly shot, according to his lawyers, and the type of bullet didn’t match Gomez’s gun. Moreover, a court dismissed the conviction of Gomez’s codefendant because it found that there was insufficient evidence that Gomez was the shooter. Gomez alleges in court papers that the detective physically abused him over 12 hours, coercing him to provide a statement. Gomez’s conviction stands to this day. He’s due back in court in February.

Alfredo Gonzalez

Status: Incarcerated; life sentence
Guevara's alleged misconduct: Beating

Gonzalez claimed in an interview that Guevara beat him into signing a false confession to a double murder. In the same interview, he said the detective refused his repeated requests for a lawyer during his interrogation. Last November, prosecutors dropped charges against Gonzalez’s codefendant, Jose Maysonet, because Guevara and four other officers refused to testify in the case.

Tony Gonzalez

Status: Incarcerated; 42-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Lineup manipulation

Guevara showed witnesses a photo lineup in which Gonzalez’s photo stood out — featuring numbers and a white background as opposed to dark backgrounds and no numbers for the others, according to court papers. Forensic science finds that differences like these can heighten the chances of a wrongful identification. Guevara also failed to separate two witnesses who viewed Gonzalez in a lineup, according to court papers, another breach of proper identification protocol. The witnesses in the case — one of whom was drunk at the time of the shooting — claimed the shooter wore a T-shirt over his head and had a gold tooth. Gonzalez doesn’t have a gold tooth. No physical evidence ties him to the crime.

Juan Hernandez

Status: Incarcerated; 111-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

The case of a teenager who was killed while listening to music on his front porch was another that police said they solved thanks to information from an anonymous caller. The case hinges on eyewitness testimony from people who were themselves under fire at the time they saw the crime — a condition eyewitness experts say lessens the accuracy of the identifications. Juan Hernandez filed a formal complaint with the Chicago Police Department alleging that he had been framed. He alleges in interviews with BuzzFeed News that he and his brother were framed as payback for his role a drug ring led by a former Guevara colleague, Area 5 supervisor, and convicted drug kingpin, Joseph Miedzianowski, who is serving a life sentence.

Rosendo Hernandez

Status: Incarcerated; 100-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

Like his brother, Juan (above), Hernandez was charged with murdering a teenager after police say they got an anonymous tip. His brother alleges in interviews with BuzzFeed News that they were framed as payback for Juan’s activities in a drug ring run by one of Guevara’s former colleagues, who is serving a life sentence.

John Martinez

Status: Incarcerated; 25-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

The witness who gave the decisive testimony in the case later said under oath that Guevara used an outstanding warrant for her arrest to pressure her into making identifications in the case. She testified that she never saw the defendant’s face and that she signed a statement implicating Martinez and his two codefendants because she’d been at the station “too long” and wanted to return home. At the time he was arrested, Martinez gave a written confession to Guevara, but has since recanted.

Antonio McDowell

Status: Incarcerated; 103-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

Days after McDowell was the victim of a shooting, he said in interviews with BuzzFeed News, Guevara brought him to the police station and asked him to view pictures of suspects. But when he arrived, he said, Guevara placed him in a lineup for a murder-carjacking case that had gone cold. Witness statements, the only evidence in the case, were conflicting and sometimes physics-defying. A defense witness testified that he and McDowell were together buying Christmas gifts at the mall at the time of the crime. While in prison, McDowell said in an interview with BuzzFeed News, he met another inmate who said he suspected that his friend was the killer. That friend was arrested on the day of the murder not far from the scene on a drug charge.

Pablo Molina

Status: Incarcerated; 45-year sentence
Guevara's alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

Molina told BuzzFeed News the detective coached witnesses to identify him in a lineup.

Marilyn Mulero

Status: Incarcerated; sentenced to death; sentence commuted to life in prison by former governor George Ryan
Guevara's alleged misconduct: Coerced confession, witness tampering

Mulero said in a legal filing that Guevara manipulated her into signing a false statement implicating her in a double murder. She claimed that if the officers had actually investigated her case, the evidence would have shown that a key witness was incapable of seeing what she claimed to have witnessed. Her codefendant, Jacqueline Montanez, has said she was responsible for both murders.

Reynaldo Munoz

Status: On parole
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Beating, witness tampering

Munoz said in an affidavit that Guevara repeatedly punched him in the mouth and drove him into rival gang territory where the detective allowed gang members to spit on Munoz — all in an effort to coerce him into confessing to a murder he said he did not commit. His parents testified at trial that he was at home with them at the time of the murder. A main witness at trial later alleged, according to court papers, that he was pressured into identifying Munoz.

David Rivera

Status: On parole; still convicted
Guevara's alleged misconduct: Coerced confession

Rivera said in an affidavit that Guevara told him if he confessed, he could go home, and he would serve seven years in prison instead of 40 to 50. He signed a statement that he said officers fed him. He said Guevara warned him he couldn’t modify it.

Martin Rivera

Status: Incarcerated; 80-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Beating, coerced confession

Rivera accuses Guevara of chaining him to a wall and repeatedly striking him in the neck and otherwise physically intimidating him in order to coerce a confession, according to court papers.

Nelson Rivera

Status: Incarcerated; serving life sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Beating, coerced confession

Rivera said in a letter to BuzzFeed News that Guevara struck him in the head and ribs. He said he eventually confessed after Guevara threatened to jail Rivera’s pregnant girlfriend. He said he has a post-conviction petition pending.

Ricardo Rodriguez

Status: Incarcerated; 60-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

One of the two witnesses who initially identified Rodriguez in the fatal shooting of a homeless man has since said under oath that he was “100%” not the killer and that he initially identified Rodriguez only because of the fact he “looked a little familiar and the influence by the detectives.” The witness said he felt “stuck” into making the ID. Rodriguez has presented an alibi for the time of the murder.

Adolfo Rosario

Status: On parole
Guevara's alleged misconduct: Manipulated a lineup in which Rosario was identified as the killer

According to an interview with Rosario's former lawyer, Rosario accused the detective of manipulating a lineup by placing a red X on Rosario’s hand as a signal of whom to select from the lineup.

Anthony Rosario

Status: Incarcerated; 45-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering, lineup manipulation

Although a codefendant in the crime named Rosario as the shooter moments after the crime, and before Guevara was involved, police records show that a second witness whom Guevara interviewed described Rosario in more specific detail — including his pockmarked skin — than would have been possible to see, given how far away he was and how dark it was.

Manuel Suastegui

Status: Incarcerated; 45-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

A witness gave sworn testimony that Guevara pressured him to identify a killer in this case. Another key witness was facing drug charges, which Suastegui said in interviews with BuzzFeed News gave him an incentive to falsely implicate Suastegui in hopes of favorable treatment by the officers.

Alan Vega

Status: Incarcerated; 35-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

Vega has alleged in an interview with BuzzFeed News that witnesses were pressured into identifying him and that he had an alibi.


Defendants Who Have Completed Their Sentences But Have Not Been Exonerated

Robert Bouto

Status: Served 22 years; completed sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

A person with a heroin addiction claimed over the span of six weeks to have collected confessions in two other murder cases; he testified that Bouto confessed to killing a teenage boy outside a high school. That confession allegedly came while both were being held at a police station lockup, which would have meant Bouto shouted it across jail cells within earshot of guards. The person with the heroin addiction later signed an affidavit alleging Guevara plied him with food, clothing, and sexual contact visits with a girlfriend while he was in custody in exchange for his testimony implicating others in murder. Another key witness — who said he was aware of Guevara’s reputation for framing people for murder — said the detective pressured him to identify Bouto as the killer. Bouto did not have a ponytail as several witnesses claimed the killer did, and he also had an alibi corroborated by two other people. An independent city investigation concluded that Bouto was likely innocent.

Voytek Dembski

Status: Trial ended in hung jury; took a plea deal rather than face a retrial; deported to Poland
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Beating, coerced confession

Dembski claimed Guevara handcuffed him to a wall and repeatedly struck him, according to his lawyer. A Polish immigrant, Dembski signed a confession in English, a language he did not speak. His lawyer said in an affidavit that Dembski asked for an attorney multiple times but was refused.

Adrian Duta

Status: Completed prison sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Beating, coerced confession

Duta swore under oath that Guevara hit him repeatedly and told him he could go home if he signed a false confession that the detective wrote out. Duta’s father said in court papers his son suffers from a “severe learning disability” that leaves him “quite impressionable.”

Mario Flores

Status: Sentenced to death; sentence was commuted to time served in 2003 when Gov. George Ryan emptied death row
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Beating

Guevara said in police records he received an anonymous call linking Flores to a cold case murder committed 11 months earlier. When he arrived at the Flores home, Guevara beat two of Flores' teenaged sisters, according to court testimony. The key witness at the trial claimed to have seen Flores accosting the victim outside her home, despite very challenging sightlines. Flores had an alibi that he was at home, celebrating the new year with family and friends.

Santos Flores

Status: Sentenced to 90 years, conviction overturned; pleaded guilty at retrial
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Beating, coerced confession, witness tampering

Flores, who was 17 and couldn’t read or write, said in an affidavit that Guevara handcuffed him to the wall, repeatedly slapped him in the head, and told him that if he didn’t confess, he would “never see daylight again.” The teen said in a sworn statement that Guevara repeatedly ignored his requests for an attorney — a finding that eventually led the Illinois appellate court to toss his conviction and order a new trial. The girlfriend of Flores’ codefendant testified that Guevara threatened to take her children from her and called her names. She said she did not read the statement she was given implicating Flores and that she signed it “just to get out” of the police station.

Joaquin Gonzalez

Status: Died while serving a 50-year sentence
Guevara's alleged misconduct: Lying on police reports

Another man was originally linked to the scene of a double murder, but Guevara, who knew the man’s family, filed a police report that said he was not involved, according to court records. One of Guevara’s colleagues filed reports that contradicted Guevara’s account of the crime. Gonzalez was arrested on the day of the crime but tested negative for gunshot residue on his hands.

Nelson Gonzalez

Status: Completed 45-year prison sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Lying

Gonzalez claimed in an interview with BuzzFeed News that Guevara fabricated an anonymous phone call in order to link Gonzalez to the crime. Witnesses in the case had been drinking. Gonzalez said that he was in Indiana for Father’s Day when the murder took place. None of his alibi witnesses were called to testify at trial.

Leshurn Hunt

Status: Completed his 38-year sentence; incarcerated on another, unrelated crime
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Beating, coerced confession

Hunt claims in court papers he confessed to a murder that he did not commit because Guevara and other officers beat him, denied him food and water, and ignored his requests for a lawyer. Hunt later won a settlement against the city of Chicago.

Geraldo Iglesias

Status: Completed sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

The same person with the heroin addiction who claimed to have collected confessions in two other murder cases over a span of six weeks claimed that Iglesias confessed to him, a perfect stranger, while both were being transported to court. The person with the heroin addiction later signed an affidavit alleging Guevara helped provide him with food, clothing, and sexual contact visits with a girlfriend while he was in custody in exchange for his testimony. Iglesias didn’t match the descriptions given by witnesses to the murder. He claimed he had been in his apartment, caring for his young child, at the time of the killing.

Henry Johnson

Status: Conviction tossed but accepted a plea deal rather than risk a retrial
Guevara's alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

Key witnesses later testified that Guevara told them to identify brothers Juan and Henry Johnson as culprits in a fatal beating outside a nightclub. One witness testified he understood Guevara’s instructions as a threat to comply or be charged. After an appeals court tossed the brothers’ convictions, Henry accepted a plea deal for time served rather than risk a retrial. His brother and codefendant, Juan, was acquitted at a retrial and later sued the city of Chicago for Guevara’s misconduct. He won a $16.4 million settlement.

Daniel Pena

Status: Died behind bars; still convicted
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Beating, coerced confession

Pena testified that he falsely confessed after Guevara repeatedly hit him with his hands and a flashlight. Pena complained of the abuse to a doctor at the jail shortly after his arrest. The doctor documented bruises to Pena’s legs and cuts to his face. Pena also testified that he was illiterate and couldn’t read the statement he had signed. He died in prison less than two years after his trial.

Manuel Rivera

Status: Completed a 50-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

An eyewitness to a murder in a park said in a sworn statement that Guevara pointed to a picture of Rivera and told him to select Rivera as the killer. The witness later said under oath that Rivera wasn’t at the crime scene but that the witness feared if he didn’t cooperate with Guevara, he would be charged with murder himself.

Daniel Rodriguez

Status: Completed his 25-year sentence
Guevara's alleged misconduct: Beating, coerced confession

Rodriguez claimed in an affidavit and in interviews with BuzzFeed News that Guevara threatened to arrest the mother of his child unless he confessed to a drive-by murder. Rodriguez said Guevara left him cuffed to a wall, depriving him of food, water, and access to a restroom. A key witness in the case testified that Guevara beat him into identifying Rodriguez as the driver and his codefendant, George Laureano, as the shooter. Laureano was acquitted at trial.

Elvis Sanchez

Status: Completed 20-year sentence
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Coerced confession

Sanchez, who was 14 at the time of his arrest, said in interviews with BuzzFeed News the detective pressured him to sign a confession that the boy could not read because he was illiterate.

Victor Vera

Status: Completed a 38-year sentence; still convicted
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering, coerced confession

A key prosecution witness said in an affidavit that Guevara showed him Vera’s picture before a lineup — a breach of police identification procedures — and that the detective threatened him and another witness that if they didn’t select Vera, they “were going to have trouble.” Vera said in a sworn statement that Guevara coerced his confession by threatening to arrest his parents and by driving him into the territory of rival gang members who wanted to harm him. Vera said Guevara used a bullhorn to alert rival gang members to Vera’s presence.


Defendants Who Have Been Exonerated

Roberto Almodovar

Status: Exonerated after serving 23 years
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

One of two witnesses testified that Guevara manipulated his identification by showing him photos of Almodovar and his codefendant, William Negron, before the lineup. Almodovar had five alibi witnesses for the time of the murder.

Xavier Arcos

Status: Exonerated
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

A main state’s witness testified at trial that Guevara threatened that if he didn’t identify Arcos for the murder, he would be pinned with the crime. The witness claimed that Guevara fed him details of the crime. An Illinois appeals court overturned Arcos’s conviction.

Juan Johnson

Status: Exonerated after serving 11 years
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

Key witnesses to a fatal beating outside a nightclub later testified that Guevara told them to identify brothers Juan and Henry Johnson as the killers. One witness testified that he understood Guevara’s instructions as a threat that the witness either comply or be charged himself. After an appeals court tossed the brothers’ convictions, Juan was found not guilty at a retrial. Juan later sued the city for Guevara’s misconduct. He won a $16.4 million settlement from the city of Chicago.

Jose Maysonet

Status: Exonerated after serving 27 years
Guevara's alleged misconduct: Beating

Maysonet claimed in court papers Guevara beat him with a flashlight until he falsely confessed to murdering two brothers. His lawyer said in court that Maysonet, a former drug dealer, made repeated payments to the detective for him to look the other way when Maysonet was dealing drugs. After Maysonet stopped making the payments, Guevara charged him with the double homicide. Last November, prosecutors dropped the charges against Maysonet after Guevara and four other officers refused to testify in his case.

Jose Montanez

Status: Exonerated after 23 years
Guevara's alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

Guevara allegedly coerced a person with a heroin addiction into claiming that Montanez, along with his codefendants Armando Serrano and Jorge Pacheco, confessed to an early-morning shooting of a factory worker. The person with the heroin addiction later alleged that the detectives plied him with food, clothing, and sexual contact with a girlfriend while in custody in exchange for his testimony. He offered testimony that two other men in two other cases had also confessed to him, all within weeks of each other. Officers also relied on a witness who claimed he saw the murder, even though it would have been nearly impossible given his vantage point. Montanez and his codefendant Serrano’s convictions were tossed in 2016 after the appellate court found “profoundly alarming acts of misconduct” in the case. Montanez’s other codefendant, Pacheco, had his conviction tossed years earlier.

William Negron

Status: Exonerated; awaiting resentencing in an unrelated case
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

One of two witnesses testified that Guevara manipulated his identification by showing him photos of Negron and his codefendant, Almodovar, before the lineup.

Jorge Pacheco

Status: Exonerated; deceased
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

Guevara allegedly coerced a person with a heroin addiction into claiming that Pacheco, along with codefendants Jose Montanez and Armando Serrano, confessed to the early-morning shooting of a factory worker. The person later alleged in an affidavit that the detectives plied him with food, clothing, and sexual contact with a girlfriend while in custody in exchange for his testimony. He offered testimony that two other men in two other cases had also confessed to him, all within weeks of each other. Pacheco’s conviction was tossed shortly after the trial.

Arturo Reyes

Status: Exonerated after serving 19 years
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Beating, coerced confession

Over the course of three days, Reyes said in court filings, Guevara repeatedly beat him until he signed a false confession in the grisly stabbing deaths of a young couple and the kidnapping of their children. No physical evidence linked him to the crime. His codefendant, Gabriel Solache, testified that he, too, was beaten. A city investigation of his case found it likely that Guevara beat Reyes.

Jacques Rivera

Status: Exonerated after serving 23 years
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

The only surviving witness to the murder, who was 12 years old at the time, testified that Guevara pressured him to identify Rivera as the killer. The victim in the case named another man as his killer to other officers before dying at a hospital.

Angel Rodriguez

Status: Exonerated after serving three years
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

The key witness in the case, a teenager, said to attorneys investigating Guevara that the detective told him whom select from the lineup, according to a court filing.

Armando Serrano

Status: Exonerated after serving 23 years
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

Guevara allegedly coerced a person with a heroin addiction into claiming that Serrano, along with codefendants Jose Montanez and Jorge Pacheco, confessed to an early-morning shooting of a factory worker. The person later alleged in an affidavit that the detectives plied him with food, clothing, and sexual contact with a girlfriend while in custody in exchange for his testimony. He offered testimony that two other men in two other cases had also confessed to him, all within weeks of each other. Officers also used a witness who claimed he saw the murder, even though it would have been nearly impossible for the man to have seen the crime from the vantage point he described. Serrano and his codefendant Montanez’s convictions were overturned in 2016 after the appellate court found “profoundly alarming acts of misconduct” in the case. Serrano’s other codefendant, Pacheco, had his conviction tossed years earlier.

Thomas Sierra

Status: Exonerated; served 22 years in prison
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Lineup and witness tampering

Guevara is accused in court papers of violating protocols meant to guard against wrongful identifications when he held a photo of Thomas Sierra in his hand, apart from others in a photo lineup. The witness viewing that photo array testified that though he didn’t get a clear view of the shooter, Guevara influenced him to select Sierra. Guevara also reported that two witnesses positively identified a car that supposedly linked Sierra to the murder. Yet both of those witnesses testified that they told Guevara that the car wasn’t a match with the killer’s.

Gabriel Solache

Status: Exonerated after serving 19 years
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Beating, coerced confession

Solache testified that Guevara repeatedly beat him until he signed a false confession in the grisly stabbing deaths of a young couple and kidnapping of their children. No physical evidence linked him to the crime. His codefendant, Arturo Reyes, alleged that he, too, was beaten. A city investigation of his case found it likely that Guevara beat Solache.


Guevara Defendants Who Were Acquitted At Trial

George Laureano

Status: Acquitted
Guevara's alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

A key witness in Laureano’s case testified that the detective handcuffed him to a ring in an interrogation room and threatened to “get you for anything I can” if the witness didn’t cooperate. One witness recanted his identification of Laureano at trial and said that Guevara fed him details of the murder. Laureano was acquitted.

Jose "Kool-Aid" Melendez

Status: Acquitted at trial
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Beating, witness tampering

Melendez told BuzzFeed News that Guevara repeatedly struck him to get him to confess to murder, which he refused to do. The witness statements against him contained glaring contradictions when lined up with the physical evidence from the scene and statements from other witnesses.

Concepcion Santiago

Status: Acquitted at trial
Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

The main witness in the 1997 shooting death of one of Guevara’s nephews testified that the detective detained him repeatedly until he agreed to make an identification. The witness testified at trial that Guevara told him to identify brothers Freddy and Concepcion Santiago as the killers and told him what to say in his statement. The judge chastised Guevara for leading an investigation involving someone in his own family. In 2001, the brothers settled a civil suit with the city of Chicago and Guevara for $45,000.

Freddy Santiago

Status: Acquitted at trial

Guevara’s alleged misconduct: Witness tampering

The main witness in the 1997 shooting death of one of Guevara’s nephews testified that the detective repeatedly detained him until he agreed to make an identification. The witness testified at trial that Guevara told him to identify brothers Freddy and Concepcion Santiago as the killers and told him what to say in his statement. The judge chastised Guevara for leading an investigation involving the detective’s family. In 2001, the brothers settled a civil suit with the city of Chicago and Guevara for $45,000.


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