Jermaine Smothers

On May 11, 1995, Jermaine was accused of shooting and killing Ernesto Flores, a prominent member of the Mesa Locos gang.  Jermaine consistently maintained that he did not shoot and kill Ernesto.  Despite passing a polygraph examination prior to trial and despite the exceedingly unreliable eyewitnesses who claimed that they saw him shoot Flores, he was convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.  The trial judge gave him a sentence of 29 years-to-life.

Jermaine’s claims of innocence fell on deaf ears until an unlikely ally appeared.  It all started in 2001 when an Oceanside Police Department homicide detective inadvertently stumbled upon evidence that Jermaine was, in fact, not the shooter in the Flores murder.  At the time, the detective was working on an unrelated homicide.  During the course of her investigation, she came into contact with several people who said that Jermaine was locked up for a crime he did not do. In 2005, she began looking further into Jermaine’s case.  Her supervising Lieutenant told her to leave the matter alone and shot down her pleas to reinvestigate Jermaine’s case.  Undeterred and convinced of Jermaine’s innocence, the detective went directly to the original prosecutor and investigating officers in the hopes that someone would do the right thing.  Unfortunately, the original prosecutor and investigating officers were defensive and nothing ever came of these efforts.

Still undeterred and in an effort to set the record straight and do the right thing, the detective dedicated the next several years to uncovering the truth about the murder.  She interviewed several witnesses who told her who the real shooter was.  Further, the critical eyewitnesses against Jermaine admitted they lied at his trial.  In 2008, the detective presented the case to the California Innocence Project, shortly before her retirement.  Since that time, both she and the California Innocence Project have jointly investigated Jermaine’s case and uncovered further evidence of innocence.  Jermaine will soon be presenting his case to the courts.

Source: California Innocence Project

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