Alvarez Won’t Bend On Wrongful Conviction Cases
At the urging of former U.S. Attorney Scott Lassar, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office reviewed the murder convictions of six people who had accused ex-Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara of framing them.
That review recently concluded with prosecutors finding there was no cause to reopen any of the cases, dealing a major setback to the six prisoners who hoped Lassar’s findings would help show they were wrongfully convicted.
"We don’t feel these guys are innocent guys," he says.
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The six cases involve inmates Roberto Almodovar, Robert Bouto, Jose Montanez, Arturo Reyes, Armando Serrano and Gabriel Solache.
In a jailhouse interview, Serrano said he was elated to learn Lassar and his law firm, hired by the city of Chicago to investigate misconduct allegations against Guevara, had raised questions about his 1994 conviction. The case hinged on testimony from a jailhouse informant who later claimed he falsely implicated Serrano under pressure from Guevara.
"I’m hopeful but I’m still waiting," Serrano said in June, before prosecutors concluded their review. "I’m still here. Still losing time."
Serrano couldn’t be reached for comment following the state’s attorney’s decision on the six cases, but his attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, said she was disappointed — but not surprised — by the Alvarez’s office decision.
"They’ve been defending these convictions in court," Bonjean says. "This doesn’t change anything for us. We’re still going to keep fighting."
A City Hall spokesman declined to comment on the state’s attorney’s decision.
The Emanuel administration hired Sidley Austin in 2013 after the convictions of two men who accused Guevara of framing them were overturned. In all, taxpayers have paid more than $20 million to investigate, defend and settle misconduct allegations against Guevara. That includes a $15 million payment to Juan Johnson, who spent 11 years in prison after his conviction in a 1989 gang-related murder. When he was retried and ultimately acquitted, witnesses claimed Guevara had forced them to implicate Johnson.
Guevara had no comment.
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