Imprisoned since 2000, Arturo Reyes and Gabriel Solache are serving life sentences stemming from a bizarre case in which a couple was murdered and their two young children abducted. Reyes and Solache were arrested when they brought the children to a police station after learning their identities from a news broadcast. They were held for two days, one arm handcuffed to a wall.
Their housemate, Adriana Mejia, pled guilty to the crimes (she’s also serving a life sentence) after the victims’ blood was found on her shoes, and under questioning from Guevara she implicated Reyes, who then named Solache as an accomplice.
No physical evidence linked Reyes or Solache to the crime.
Both Reyes and Solache testified at their trial that they confessed only after sustained beatings by Guevara. Reyes said the detective would slap him every time he didn’t like an answer Reyes gave; Solache said beatings to his head caused him to lose his hearing in one ear. In a pretrial hearing, Mejia testified that she saw Guevara slap Solache; Guevara denied any physical abuse took place.
In 2003 the two men filed post-conviction petitions which were dismissed by the trial judge, but in 2006 an appeals court reversed that decision, ruling that new evidence of a pattern of abuse by Guevera added credibility to their claims of coerced confessions.
An amended petition filed in 2008 on Solache’s behalf by Northwestern’s Center on Wrongful Convictions laid out dozens of cases of misconduct by Guevara that had come to light in the intervening years, including a distinct pattern of manipulating witnesses and coercing confessions to win convictions in murder cases where no physical evidence existed. The state moved to dismiss the petition, and another round of legal wrangling took place.
Finally in February 2013 an evidentiary hearing began (it stretched over two years) on their petition for post-conviction relief. The defense presented witnesses and testimony from other cases spelling out 20 instances of Guevara’s misconduct, including the testimony of a retired detective who said he told his supervisor that Guevara had manipulated a photo array. A murder charge in that case was subsequently dropped.
Guevara was called to the stand but refused to testify, taking the Fifth Amendment dozens of times. That’s a problem, as Circuit Court Judge James M. Obbish noted in his June 29 ruling, since it left every credible allegation against him unrebutted.