Is Daniel Villegas innocent?According to the HuffPost article:
According to a district judge, at least 18 alibi witnesses, the jury foreman, one of his alleged shooting victims, the former mayor of El Paso and a local businessman who has turned into his most vocal advocate, the answer is an unequivocal yes.
Daniel Villegas, 36, is serving a life sentence for the shooting deaths of teens Armando "Mando" Lazo, 18, and Robert England, 17, in Northeast El Paso. He has been incarcerated since 1995.
Villegas, who was 16 at the time of the killings, confessed, but claimed immediately after he was separated from then-El Paso police Detective Al Marquez that the confession was aggressively coerced.
In August 2012, Judge Medrano ruled that Villegas' confession was coerced -- something that Villegas communicated to juvenile officers immediately following his removal from the custody of Detective Marquez.Ironically, Villegas rejected a plea bargain for a 10 year sentence in the double homicide because, he said, he didn't believe an innocent person could be convicted in America. That was nearly 20 years ago. Cases like these, Grits has repeatedly maintained, argue strongly for a requirement that police record interrogations, at least in the most serious cases. But in this case, even the version of the confession obtained by police doesn't match up with other facts in evidence, according to the judge's findings and published reports. I have no idea why the Court of Criminal Appeals has waited to long to confirm or reject the district judge's ruling, but it sure seems like it's time for them to get on the stick.
"For our justice system to work it must make two important promises to its citizens: A fundamentally fair trial and an accurate result," Judge Medrano told a courtroom. "If either of these two promises are not kept, our system loses its credibility, our citizens lose their faith and confidence in our court system, and eventually our decisions and laws become meaningless."
This summer, supporters of Daniel Villegas marched on the Capitol a year to the day of Medrano's ruling, hoping to get the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to address Villegas' case. Supporters included former El Paso Mayor John Cook, who said he believed Villegas should be granted a new trial, as well as several former death row inmates who lived to be vindicated.
But the appellate court has not so much as set a hearing.