Category Archives: California

Robert Pape and Cristin Smith

Robert Pape and Cristin Smith were sentenced to life without parole in the 2006 triple murders of Jon Hayward, his girlfriend, Vicki Friedli, and her 18-year-old daughter, Rebecca “Becky” Friedli, in Pinyon Pines, California.

The victims were found murdered at their Alpine Drive home just north of Highway 74. Hayward and Vicki Friedli died of gunshots to the abdomen and head, respectively. Their bodies were discovered inside their burning home. Becky Friedli’s charred body lay outside in a wheelbarrow and her cause of death was never determined.

Robert was told certain aspects of the crime scene by Javier Garcia, such as the wheelbarrow and the bodies being too burned to identify. Javier testified that he did not know this information until a few days after the murders.

Post-trial discovery has revealed a tape of a Denny’s employee stating that Javier called her the next morning,  stating the facts about the wheelbarrow and the burned bodies.

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David Diaz

Martha Sierra accused David Diaz of attempting to kill her boyfriend, Remberto Preciado, in the Lincoln Heights area of L.A., in front of her. According to police, Preciado was asked what neighborhood he was from during a fight over gang rivalries, and subsequently shot in the leg.

At the hospital, Sierra, then 18, was asked for information about the suspect. Detectives showed her photos of registered gang members in Lincoln Heights. She pointed to a young man, skinny with a shaved head, bushy eyebrows, and the start of a moustache. It was David Diaz.

In court, the defense presented evidence that showed Diaz was at the cinema with his family at the time of the shooting. But the jury was swayed by Sierra’s identification of Diaz as the shooter.

Nineteen years later, Sierra admits that she chose Diaz at random due to police pressure. “They told me I couldn’t go home until I identified the criminal. I told them: ‘OK, it’s this guy,’ but I didn’t know who he was,” she told Univision News.

“David Diaz was not the shooter,” said Sierra, now 39. “I feel bad because he should not be there,” she added.

Sierra says the true culprit does not even look like Diaz, but she did not see him among the pictures police showed her. “Everything happened so quickly but I remember that he was tall, with light skin, and skinny.” According to Diaz and his lawyers, the true culprit died in a gunfight.

The victim of the shooting, Remberto Preciado, declared that the accused was not the man who shot him in the leg.

“He is innocent,” Preciado wrote in a letter sent to Univision from Salinas Valley state prison, where he is serving a sentence for an unrelated incident. “In the trial, I testified that David Diaz was not the shooter. He is a victim of injustice of the Los Angeles’ courts,” he wrote.

“Nineteen years of his life have been stolen from him,” he added.


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Jacob Silva

Jacob Silva was convicted of the murder of Renee Ramos, whose bruised and beaten body was found June 5, 2000, beneath a pile of insulation at the site of a Home Depot under construction in Manteca, San Joaquin County, California.

Jacob Silva and Renee Ramos were boyfriend and girlfriend. Both 18 years old and living pretty much on the streets, sleeping in cars, parks or friend’s homes.

A 14-year-old when questioned by police, said he witnessed the victim’s rape and murder, but subsequently admitted the story was entirely made up. The prosecution case was that this happened five days earlier. There was no evidence to substantiate boy’s original claim, and forensic examiner John Cooper testified that the victim had only been dead for 1 to 3 days, and it was actually closer to one day than three, contradicting the story.

According to prosecutors, there were as many as five people present at the alleged crime.

Nevertheless, despite the complete lack of evidence to support the prosecution case other than the boy’s original story, and the conflict with the time of death according to Cooper, Jacob Silva was convicted of murder, and another man Ty Lopes was convicted of rape and murder.

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Bobby Montaque

Bobby Montague was wrongly convicted of a 1999 murder based on informant testimony and a false confession. Bobby, age 18, was with his girlfriend at the time of the crime.

According to an appeal ruling, the defense argued that “the trial court erroneously admitted his confession in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, refused to instruct the jury it could request read back of testimony, admitted anonymous handwritten rap lyrics and a photograph album found in appellant’s room. He also argues the prosecutor’s late disclosures of a witness’s background as a police informant violated appellant’s constitutional and statutory discovery rights”, however the appeal was denied.


Ryan Mickey

Ryan Mickey was railroaded by the system for doing CPR wrong on a sick child that had a brain injury from the child’s Father Nicholas Bradley. This Coward beat up his pregnant wife and put her in the hospital for 3 weeks, Causing a subdural haematoma in his unborn child and received only a 4 year sentence. Ryan got together with the child’s mom a while later. Because this brain injury was so severe, it had reopened 16 months later with no warning. The symptoms were flu like and a nurse practitioner misdiagnosed this child with a severe flu. A few days later she went into respiratory distress and Ryan called 911 and began CPR… Because he did what anyone else with any kind of morals and a heart would’ve done, he lost his freedom & life from lying, crooked cops and DA…

Instead of doing the right thing and letting him go, they offered Ryan a deal to cover their own asses, which Ryan refused to sign.

He is a hero sitting in prison for helping someone! Ryan has already lost 11 years of his life due to this terrible injustice!! The Innocence Project is working on bringing him home right now.

Website :

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James Joseph Olague

James Joseph Olague, Ernesto Duran Arellano and  Oscar Hurtado Cervantes  were wrongly convicted in the shooting death of of Robert Stepper and Eric Folsom, and attempted murder of Vicki Folsom and Jessica Valdez on Halloween 2002.

All three defendants testified at trial and denied any involvement. The police pressured alleged accomplices to make false confessions consistent with the prosecution theory.

According to defense attorney Rod Beede, the jury deliberated for 30 days during the guilt phase of this trial. At one point, he said, they were split 8-4 for acquittal.

From the same article “Was Oscar Cervantes Wrongfully Convicted of Being the Shooter in 2002 Halloween Homicide?”


There was an individual named Rudy Gonzalez, who the defense believed was either involved or knew who was involved in the shooting. However, the judge denied them the ability to call Mr. Gonzalez to the stand to put forward an alternate theory of the crime.

“Much more substantially than that,” Mr. Beede continued, “when eyewitness identification was a big issue – but there was a lot of debate as to whether calling a memory expert, an eyewitness identification expert, was something that a court should permit.”

They filed a motion to do that, retaining one of the most prominent eyewitness experts in the country to come and testify that the identification was false. The judge denied the motion to put this expert on the stand.

Mr. Beede noted that “subsequent to that, the Supreme Court has held that failure to put an eyewitness identification expert on the stand is ineffective assistance of counsel.” But they didn’t get that opportunity because the judge denied the motion.

Christina Marie Marten was barely 18 years old at the time and made a statement incriminating these defendants. She went to trial before the three main defendants went to trial. “She was offered a plea bargain, accessory after the fact, which basically was a time-served sentence if she would testify at Oscar’s trial to which she testified to a grand jury. When it came time for her to do that, she couldn’t bring herself to do it.”

Because of that she went to trial separately and was convicted and is now doing a life sentence without parole for a story she recanted.

“The eyewitness identification in this case was completely fabricated,” he said. “The two girls that were the survivors of these shootings had been shown Oscar’s picture at least a half dozen times.”

“But the most outrageous thing that happened in the case, of all the outrageous things that happened in the case, was that Nate Easlon, purported to be an eyewitness to the shooting – he was arrested down in Solano County and they made a deal with him to testify.”

“Nate Easlon wrote a letter to my co-counsel and I, and said he not only fabricated the entire story but that his attorney and Jim Walker, who was trying the case with Jeff Reisig, had told him to fabricate. Had gone down to Solano County, met with him, told him that he was going to get a life sentence or worse if he didn’t come through.”

End Quote

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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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Nicholas Newbold

Nicholas Newbold was wrongfully convicted of crimes committed by his ex-fiancé. She abused their two month old little girl, resulting in her death. Under California’s aiding and abetting law, Nubi was basically found guilty by association. He’s serving 30 years in prison and she is walking free! His only crime was choosing a cold hearted, selfish woman to fall in love with.


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Joseph Nissensohn

Joseph Nissensohn was convicted in 2013 of the 1981 murders of Tammy Jarschke, 13, and Tanya Jones, 14, along with the 1989 murder of a South Lake Tahoe girl, 15-year-old Kathy Graves.

On Sept. 9, 1981, a team of woodcutters found Tanya’s decomposed body tied with electrical wire to a tree about a mile off Tassajara Road on Chews Ridge, Monterey County, California. Sheriff’s deputies combing the area for evidence found Tammy’s remains nearby.

Nine years later, Nissensohn’s estranged wife, Cheryl Rose, showed up in a Florida battered women’s shelter. She told police her husband had killed a woman in Tacoma, Wash. She agreed to testify in exchange for immunity. The next year, Nissensohn was convicted of killing Sally Jo Tsaggaris, 46, during drug-fueled, bondage-style sex in a van.

Rose testified that she believed Nissensohn was responsible for many earlier murders, including two in Oklahoma and one in Nevada. She described the disappearance of Kathy Graves in South Lake Tahoe three months after the Tacoma murder.

Rose also told investigators about a killing that matched details of the Chews Ridge slayings. Nissensohn was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the Tacoma murder, but in 2008, after serving 15 years, he was about to be let out with credits for good behavior.

Monterey and South Lake Tahoe’s El Dorado County filed charges and combined all three murders to be tried at the same time. Authorities found Jessie Prieto, Nissensohn’s best friend. Prieto agreed to cooperate and said he and his friend were with Tammy and Tanya on June 25, 1981, and that Nissensohn told him he wanted to take the girls to Chews Ridge and rape them. But Prieto died before the case ever made it to trial. Cheryl Rose, who was in poor health, was barely able to testify in a 2010 preliminary hearing, and died five months later. However,  prosecutor Dale Gomes was able to submit Rose’s testimony transcript as evidence at trial. A jailhouse informant informant testified that Nissensohn confessed to killing Tammy and Tanya.

Just before Nissensohn was sentenced in 1991, he contacted police, and told them  in an interview that he did not kill Sally Jo Tsaggaris or Kathy Graves, claiming that his wife, Cheryl Rose, killed them, and he just hid the body of Tsaggaris. The long interview, which was taped, was played for the jury. Nissensohn told two offices that he was a scapegoat for Rose, who had killed Sally. He only helped get rid of the body, he said. The first murder trial was a conspiracy against him, he said, involving Rose, who testified in exchange for immunity, and his defense counsel, who offered no defense and simply rested their case without so much as calling a witness. Because he was about to be sentenced and likely extradited to California for the murder of Graves, he wanted to strike a deal himself. Nissensohn said on the tape that he met Rose in a motel and of their wild life of drugs and sex, with Rose bringing home “beautiful women” to “party” with and play “sexual games,” while he brought in drugs. One day, he came back from getting drugs to find Tsaggaris stabbed to death, but didn’t go to the police. Instead, he helped get rid of the body. “I know Cheryl did it,” Nissensohn said on the tape. “I came back to that van and that girl was dead. Cheryl did it. I had nothing to worry about … I sat there and heard it for a day and a half after my lawyer stuck it to me by going, ‘Defense rests.’ Guilty of second-degree murder. And all I did was help get rid of the body. Guilty of second-degree murder. I didn’t do it.

The defense called a witness who testified that her ex-husband killed Tammy and Tanya.

The defense called Brian Jarvis of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office to the stand. Jarvis, now retired, was part of interviews with Rose, which were played via audio and shown on video. Though the interviews from 1990 were nearly unintelligible, the jury was provided a transcript, and Jarvis was questioned after each segment.

The defense asked questions concerning answers Rose had given, showing she changed answers over time. Between the 1990 interviews and a 2007 interview, she changed her story of the last time she saw Kathy Graves, a South Lake Tahoe teenager Nissensohn is accused of killing. First, she said she saw the girl leaving to hitchhike to find a job; then, she last saw the girl as Nissensohn led her into the hills of the forest, after they had stopped their van. Nissensohn allegedly wanted sex, and when denied by the girl, killed her.

She also changed her story of what Nissensohn had carried into the woods. Originally, she said it was a quilt. Then, she changed her story to a bag of sex toys that also had a kitchen knife — what she said Nissensohn used to kill Graves and Tsaggaris.

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Hooman Ashkan Panah

md081-e1427320714142Hooman Ashkan Panah was convicted in 1995 of  sexually assaulting and murdering an 8-year-old girl, and sentenced to death.

The victim was found in a suitcase in Hooman’s closet, in his apartment which was shared by Hooman, his mother and a guest, Ahmed Seihoon, who was the last person to see the victim before she went missing.

The conviction was based on pathology and serological evidence, however this evidence was false, being inconsistent with DNA evidence which was collected but not presented at trial, in fact his attorney has claimed that the DNA proves Hooman to be innocent.

An independent pathologist has stated that the victim likely died much later than Hooman was present at the apartment, meaning he could not have committed the crime.

Multiple searches of the apartment were conducted by the police, which failed to discover the body, suggesting that it was brought into the apartment after Hooman was arrested.

The guest, Ahmed Seihoon, had the opportunity both to commit the crime and return the body to the apartment in a suitcase. In addition, according to Hooman’s mother, he lied to police to give the impression he had an alibi.

The latest brief, filed in March 2016, is available from

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George Gage

In 1999, George Gage, a 60-year-old electrician with no criminal record, was charged in Los Angeles Superior Court with multiple counts of raping and sexually abusing his stepdaughter, Marian, when she was a young girl. Marian made the allegations years later; other than her accusations, there was no evidence that the crimes had occurred. Twice, Gage turned down favorable plea offers. “I am not a sexual offender,” he said.
In closing argument, the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Christopher Estes, told the jury that the case boiled down to Marian’s credibility. “If you believe what [Marian] said is to be the truth,” he said, “then you know that each and every element of these charges has been satisfied.” At the time Estes was prosecuting Gage, he was also running for election to be a judge on the California Superior Court. On March 2, 2000, the jury convicted Gage on all counts. On March 7, 2000, Estes won the election.
At sentencing, after a protracted dispute, the presiding judge obtained Marian’s medical and psychological records, which Estes had never turned over to Gage’s lawyer. After reviewing them privately, the judge granted Gage a new trial, finding that the failure to provide Gage’s attorney with this evidence violated his right to a fair trial. Had the jurors known the full story, the judge concluded, they would likely have harbored grave doubts about Marian, whom the judge called “deranged” and “not candid with law enforcement, the district attorney’s office, or with the court or jury.” In a year of therapy after a suicide attempt, Marian made a single passing reference to sexual abuse, a silence the judge found “very inconsistent with the almost vomitus delivery of the morbid details of abuse the victim happily laid out at trial.” Also included in the trove of documents was this damning description by Marian’s mother: “A pathological liar who lives her lies.” The judge responded: “Mom ought to know. She has lived with [Marian] her entire life.”
The California Court of Appeals concluded that the trial judge had overstepped her authority in considering any of this evidence because it had never been presented to the jury. Gage’s conviction was upheld, and he was sentenced to die in prison. Fifteen years later, in 2015, when Gage’s case finally reached the 9th Circuit, AEDPA essentially mandated that the state court’s ruling be upheld. The federal judges, led by George W. Bush appointee Richard Clifton, were outraged, and subjected the deputy attorney general, David Cook, to a grilling that was similar in tone and substance to what Vienna experienced in the Baca case.
Prosecutors who lie or who conceal evidence should be disbarred and prosecuted. And any guilty verdict that was obtained with a prosecutor lying (on the stand or in his or her arguments) or concealing evidence should be automatically thrown out.
After being pressed repeatedly to explain why Gage’s rights had not been violated, Cook reminded the federal judges that the law required them to assume that the state appellate court decided the case correctly. Clifton was not persuaded. “I gotta say it doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in the verdict.” There was a long pause as Cook, clearly uncomfortable, stared down at the lectern. Judge Clifton pressed, “Does it give you a lot of confidence in the verdict?” Cook started to respond that it was not his place to question the verdict, but again Judge Clifton cut him off. “On some level you are,” Clifton said. The prosecutor’s job, he said is “not simply to obtain convictions, it’s to do justice.”
Clifton concluded, “I have some concerns about this conviction. I would hope the state of California has some concerns as well.” Cook offered to take the case back to his supervisor for a second look. “If he is not already listening by the Internet,” he added. He may well have been, but few others were. There was no judge with Kozinski’s star power on the panel hearing Gage’s appeal and no attendant press coverage. To date, less than 350 people have viewed the oral argument.

Ray Meyers

Ray Meyers was told to plead guilty to a child molestation case in Riverside County CA, by a court appointed attorney.

He is innocent, doc report came back with no physical evidence.

He is a cancer patient or was, almost paralyzed due to his extensive treatment. He had a stem cell transplant years ago but because of his on going medical issues, he is in a state prison hospital in Stockton.

He was helping out a friend of his who was homeless and living in a van with his two kids, my friend offered to help him out by opening up his home and offered to watch the two kids while the parents went/looked for work.

This is how he was repaid by being accused of molesting the little girl!

Scared and not having any money due to his disability, he listened to the lawyer because the lawyer told him if he plead guilty he would get a lesser sentence, this did not happen even though they had no evidence he is wasting away in prison and supporters are afraid he will die there without the proper care he needs.

He is coming up for his first parole, his sentence is 80 to life.

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Kenneth Clair

Kenneth Clair was convicted of  the 1984 murder of a baby sitter in Santa Ana, Orange County, California, and sentenced to death.

A child witness who did not testify initially stated that the murdererer was white, but then changed his story., but in an affidavit filed in Aug. 2004, the now-grown Jerrod Hessling, testified that he changed his description at the behest of his mother’s boyfriend, who was a member of a white motorcycle club.

There was no physical evidence tying Clair to the killing, he was convicted mostly on the strength of a taped conversation between him and ex-girlfriend Pauline Flores. In the recording, Flores repeatedly tries to get Clair to admit he killed Rodgers.

However in 2011, DNA tests revealed DNA from an unknown male.

Source :

In January 2016, it was revealed that in March 2015, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals secretly overturned Clair’s death sentence and sealed the records.


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Kevin Cooper

Kevin Cooper has been on death row in California for 30 years and is set to be the next person executed by the state. Cooper was convicted of murdering a mother, father, and two 10-year-old children in a crime that horrified prosecutors in 1983. However, the execution is drawing some criticism, as five federal judges say that Kevin Cooper may be innocent and that evidence suggests that the man may not have committed the terrible murder. Despite an unprecedented 103-page dissent letter signed by five federal judges in the Kevin Cooper appeal case, noting that “the State of California may be about to execute an innocent man,” the lethal injection is still scheduled to take place unless Governor Jerry Brown intervenes.

Source: Jan 31, 2016

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Kevin Black

Kevin Michael Black was convicted in 2002 of the sexual abuse of his step-daughter (D), and of molesting two of her friends (F1) and (F2).

Key to the case is a babysitter (BS) with a long record of molesting children.

The defense case is that D (age 9 when she made the false accusation) was under the influence of BS, who had likely molested her, and coached her to accuse Kevin.

According to D, BS used to baby sit her after school. BS would take her to school and pick her up almost every day. BS loved her and was very nice to her. He would buy her a lot of presents and candy. He would get swimsuits and other outfits and would have her try them on.

D was not a credible witness. D’s mother (M) testified that, when she was living with a previous boyfriend (BF), D accused BF of molesting her, recanted, and then later accused him again. It was hard for M to know if D was telling the truth about BF because nothing had come of D’s earlier accusation against BS. M did not report the accusation against BF to the police. D had previously made other accusations against individuals.

At trial, D testified that BS had never touched her in a bad way. She said she told the police officer that BS had never molested her and she repeatedly told M that BS had never molested her. BS had merely washed her while she was in the shower when she was very

According to an appeal ruling the evidence showed that BS molested L. about 27 years before trial when she was about 7 years old, C. about 21 years before trial when she was about 8 years old, M some 20 years before trial when she was about 9 years old, T. about 6 years before trial when she was about 3 years old, and BF’s son about 1 month before.

Moreover at trial F1 and F2 testified that Kevin did not do anything, and they could not even identify him.

Given all this, it is truly hard to see how the jury could have concluded guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, nevertheless Kevin was found guilty.

On appeal, the defense pointed to new information in police records showing that BS had recently molested another girl of D’s age (JW), a friend of D, that he was sexually interested in D, and that he admitted molesting JW.

However the appeal court ruled that it would only have emphasized the fact that BS molested many children; it would not have established that BS molested D.

Also of note is that the lead detective was a lifelong friend of BS. This detective unsucessfully threatened a jailhouse inmate to attempt to persuade him to testify against Kevin.

In addition the defense attorney was incompetent and suicidal and shot himself. His own psychiatrist testified to this.

Finally during her CART interview JW stated that BS told her to ‘blame the step-dad’ if anyone ever found out. This is on tape.

Kevin has now been in prison for nearly 15 years.

Supporting Documents

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Darrell Lomax

Darrell Lomax was in the backseat of a car that was pulled over for an illegal lane change. When two handguns were found in the car, Lomax suddenly found himself subjected to a curbside gunshot residue test, which took two hours. He passed—no evidence was found that he’d recently fired a gun. During the course of the traffic stop, several patrol cars brought to the scene witnesses of two earlier crimes, asking if Lomax was involved. None of the witnesses implicated him in either incident. Along with the driver and other passenger of the vehicle, Lomax was still arrested and charged in connection with two armed robberies, one of which ended in the fatal shooting of Nasser Akbar.

Lomax was held from September 1, 1994, until March 13, 1995. On that morning, all charges against Lomax were dropped, but the case against him proceeded anyway, even though the prosecution did not formally refile the complaint or rearrest Lomax. This was technically a violation of the penal code, but Lomax wasn’t informed that the charges had briefly been dropped until years later. In the meantime, he was found guilty, based largely on the testimony of Angela Toler, the other passenger in the vehicle Lomax had been riding in. Toler recieved a lighter sentence in return for her testimoney.

No physical evidence connects Lomax to the murder of Nasser Akbar. No gunshot residue was found on him at the time and his fingerprints were not on either gun. A surviving witness to the robbery stated that there were two assailants: a woman, and a man with dreadlocks, which Lomax did not have. Another witness cleared Lomax in the initial field identification, but later changed his story to match Toler’s. In return, the authorities dropped $1,600 in unpaid parking tickets and a charge for possession of an unregistered handgun against the witness (the official explanation was that authorities were eager to prevent the witness from going to prison, where his life might have been in danger). Prior to the trial, the witness never gave any descriptions that matched Lomax.

Darrell Lomax has been on death row since 1995.


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Suzanne Johnson

Suzanne was convicted of assault on a child causing death ( shaken baby ), it made no sense but experts thought at the time the only explanation of three symptoms was shaking.

The judge said she was obviously an exemplary, caring, and loving lady, but the medical science established her guilt.

However it is now known that a short fall, like a fall from a high chair, can result in trauma sufficient to cause an infant’s death. Additionally, death from a short fall injury is more probable when an infant has a previous skull injury. In fact, when Jasmine fell from her high chair, she had an existing skull fracture that had occurred months earlier. The preexisting skull fracture was confirmed by Jasmine’s failure to thrive, physical discomfort, feeding problems, constant crying, and by autopsy findings.

Marilyn Mulero

On May 12, 1992, two members of the Latin Kings were shot and killed in a Humboldt Park bathroom. At 9:00 p.m. the next evening, Chicago police arrested Marilyn Mulero and Jackie Montanez, took the women to Humboldt Park, and interrogated them about the murders. The officers displayed Marilyn and Montanez to Latin King members, which associated the women with the crimes. After being displayed, detectives separately interviewed the women. Police denied Marilyn legal representation and questioned her for over nine hours in her non-native language.

After interrogation without counsel or sleep, Marilyn signed a prepared statement, which implicated her for both murders. Marilyn’s attorney, Jeremiah Lynch, entered a blind plea of guilty, paving the way for Mulero’s death sentence. Lynch failed to provide Marilyn an accurate and honest assessment of the strength of her case. Lynch’s representation fell far below the objective and professional standards of reasonableness. Lynch did not interview a single witness, police officer, or verify any witness accounts, despite the fact that Marilyn maintained her innocence. In total, Lynch only spent about ten minutes with Marilyn. Shortly after a court sentenced Marilyn to death, Lynch quit the legal profession and entered priesthood.

The prosecution’s key witness, Jackie Serrano, claimed she witnessed the murders through her apartment window. Serrano saw three women and two men in the park from her apartment. Serrano saw the taller woman enter the bathroom with a man and heard a firecracker sound. Serrano saw the tallest woman leave the bathroom, without the man, and saw the shorter woman shoot the other man in the back of his head.

Subsequent investigation showed it was impossible for Serrano to observe the homicide. In addition, law enforcement officers, with almost two decades of experience, concluded Serrano’s account was impossible. Not only was it impossible to hear a gunshot or a verbal conversation, but it was physically impossible for anyone, at night, to have seen the murder from Serrano’s apartment, over 489 feet away. Montanez later admitted to shooting both men.

Despite strong evidence of innocence, Mulero has been wrongfully incarcerated for over two decades. She maintains her innocence and the California Innocence Project is working toward her exoneration.


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Jose Mendoza

Jose MendozaJose Mendoza was wrongly convicted in October 2001 for aiding and abetting  the April 13, 2001 murder of Armando Rodriguez on Exeter Street in Paramount, Los Angeles County, California, around 9pm. Jose was age 19 at the time, and was was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.

Anthony Contreras was also wrongly convicted at the same trial. Ruben Martinez who committed the crime was charged, but then charges were dropped a few days before trial. Jerry Rivas, a 14 year old who was present at the shooting was also convicted. Martinez was killed in 2005. In 2010 Rivas said that Martinez committed the crime, and only he and Martinez were present.


The prosecution case was that Jose was the driver.

Juan Torres was a gang member from Compton who was arrested in June 2001 for carjacking and robbery. Torres told police he had information when he was arrested, and apparently in exchange for his testimony his sentence was reduced by 11 years.

Torres had sold a gun to Jose several weeks after April 13. Jose was shot at in Watts a few weeks after April 13,  so Torres offered to sell him a gun for personal protection. Police found the gun at the home of Jose’s mother in Watts. At trial, the district attorney claimed the gun was murder weapon however tests were inconclusive. The gun sale was never brought up at trial.


Torres testified that at 1:45pm on April 13, he, Contreras, Jose and Rivas left Contreras’ home and drove around for an hour in a minivan, with Torres and Contreras in the back smoking crack cocaine:


However court records show this is impossible. Jose had been living with Mrs. Shock, his 5th grade teacher who took him in due to his father being abusive. Mrs. Shock and Jose were in court around 2pm on April 13. The minivan was owned by Mrs. Shock, who was disabled from birth and used an electric scooter for mobility. The minivan had a hydraulic lift for the scooter that took up the whole rear of the van, so she could not have travelled to court other than by using her specially equipped van.

In June 2010, Jerry Rivas told an investigator that he went with Ruben Martinez to Exeter Street to purchase marijuana, was present at the shooting, that Martinez was the person who shot Rodriguez, and he was the only person with Martinez when Rodriguez was shot.


So in fact both Jose Mendoza and Anthony Contreras were wrongly convicted. Rivas was aged just 14 at the time. Ruben Martinez, the shooter, was a friend who had previously shot his own brother over 20$. He was killed in 2005.

Before Martinez died, he wrote a letter addressed to Jose ( note: Jose prefers to be known as Joe ) :


In the letter Martinez says he is sorry and “hopefully I’ll be able to straighten things out”.

The letter was never sent to Jose, however after Martinez died, it emerged that Joe Perez and his girlfriend Yvette Solorazno would let Martinez stay the night at their home due to Martinez being homeless. Martinez would get drunk and write letters. One night Martinez asked for 5$ to buy a card because he wanted to send a letter to Jose. Martinez bought a card filled it out, sealed it and gave to Joe Perez to mail. Joe Perez never mailed the letter as he didn’t think it was a good idea, but after Martinez was killed Joe Perez told Yvette Soloranzo that he still had the card addressed to Jose and Yvette made Joe Perez give the letter unopened to Mrs Shock. An investigator interviewed Yvette Soloranzo in April 2007, and she confirmed the authenticity of the letter:


Jose’s appeals have been denied, Contreras and Rivas were both released, but Rivas is back in custody.

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Appeal Ruling from 2006, has many useful facts.

PDF about Juan  Torres