Edwin Davila walked into a cold rain outside a Chicago courtroom on Tuesday with his son at his side, and a decades-long burden of a murder conviction lifted from his shoulders.
“I am happy I am finally free, but it has taken so long,” the 48-year-old told reporters.
Davila was only 21-years old-when he says he was framed by Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara for a murder he never committed. His attorneys said no physical evidence connected him to the 1995 murder of Jaime Alvarez on the city's Near West Side.
None of the witnesses in the case initially identified Davila. But later, after spotting the young man in the neighborhood, Guevara placed his picture in a photo line up where he was identified and later convicted of the killing. Davila always maintained his innocence.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
Tuesday, Cook County Judge Joanne F. Rosado overturned that conviction. As he left the courtroom, surrounded by his family and supporters, Davila expressed relief and frustration.
“I have mixed emotions because it’s taken so long,” he said. “When I first got out, it was hard for me to do anything because I still had to register as a violent offender.”
Davila said his girlfriend at the time was two months pregnant at the time of his arrest. He missed out on his son’s birth while he was in custody. Now his son, Edwin Junior, is 21 years old.
“I have never been there for my son,” he said. “So now I have a chance to be with him.”
Davila said he has a grandson now and is looking forward to watching him grow up.
He is the 33rd man to have his murder conviction overturned because of the way Guevara handled their cases. Russell Ainsworth of the Exoneration Project wants all the cases involving Guevara to re-evaluated and to have the charges dismissed if there is evidence of misconduct or innocence.
“There has been no accountability for Rey Guevara,” he said.
Guevara has never been charged in connection with any of the wrongful convictions. He now lives in Texas on his Police Department pension.
For now, Davila and his family left the Leighton Criminal Courts complex ready to start a new life without the obstacles a criminal conviction creates, and a lesson in justice that he will now pass down to his son: never give up.
“That’s the lesson,” Davila said. “Never give up…because I never gave up.”