The Cook County state’s attorney's office on Tuesday asked judges to vacate eight murder convictions connected to a retired Chicago police detective accused of framing others who were sent to prison.
State's Attorney Kim Foxx told reporters that her office no longer will oppose post-conviction litigation in eight cases following a 2019 review of cases related to allegations of police misconduct involving Reynaldo Guevara.
“We no longer believe in the validity of these convictions or the credibility of the evidence of these convictions,” Foxx said.
About two dozen cases already have been vacated.
Guevara — a former member of a police department dogged by decades of scandal, cover-ups and brutality — has never been charged with a crime. He has helped inmates win freedom by repeatedly invoking his constitutional right against self-incrimination or insisting that he couldn’t remember facts, thus forcing prosecutors to dismiss charges in several cases.
In one case, after he was granted immunity by prosecutors, he answered repeatedly that he didn’t remember confessions that he elicited from two men ultimately convicted of murder. The judge characterized his comments as “bald-faced lies” and threw out the confessions.
Last September, Chicago’s City Council agreed to pay $20.5 million to two of at least a dozen men whose murder convictions were dismissed after allegedly being framed by Guevara.
The lawsuits were filed on behalf of Armando Serrano and Jose Montanez who spent 23 years in prison before they were released in 2016. A key witness in their case admitted that he had lied about hearing them confess because Guevara had threatened to beat him if he didn’t.
In 2009, a jury awarded $21 million to a man who spent 11 years in prison before he was retried and acquitted because witnesses testified that Guevara intimidated them into falsely identifying the man as the killer. The city later agreed to pay $16.4 million.
Another jury awarded $17 million in 2018 to a man who made similar allegations.
Foxx said Tuesday that she would not discount the impact each case had on the defendants and their families.
“While we focused on the allegations of misconduct, we did not want to lose sight that lives were lost and the impact that our decision could have on the families of victims who believed that justice had been served by these convictions,” she added. “We looked at these cases with a careful lens to ensure that we got it right.”