Tuesday, July 15, 2014



EXECUTED: Ruben Montoya Cantu (December 5, 1966 – August 24, 1993) was a Texan who was executed for murder. During the years following the conviction, the surviving victim, the co-defendant, the District Attorney, and the jury forewoman have all made public statements that cast doubt on Cantu's guilty verdict and death sentence.

EXECUTED: Carlos DeLuna—in 1989, DeLuna was executed for the stabbing of a Texas convenience store clerk. Almost 20 years later, Chicago Tribune uncovered evidence that shows DeLuna was likely innocent. The evidence showed that Carlos Hernandez, a man who even confessed to the murder many times, actually did the crime.

EXECUTED: Jesse Joseph Tafero (October 12, 1946 – May 4, 1990), was convicted of murder and executed via electric chair in the state of Florida for the murders of Florida Highway Patrol officer Phillip Black and Donald Irwin, a visiting Canadian constable and friend of Black. The officers were killed during a traffic stop where Tafero, his girlfriend Sunny Jacobs, and their children were passengers. The driver, Walter Rhodes, confessed to shooting the officers after Tafero's execution.

INCARCERATED: Gilbert Alejandro (1990) Served 4 years was convicted of aggravated sexual assault in Ulvade County, Texas, in 1990. He was freed in 1994, one of many innocent men who had been convicted due to false testimony by Fred Zain.

INCARCERATED:  Orlando Boquete on May 23, 2006, Orlando Boquete’s conviction for attempted sexual battery and burglary was vacated. DNA testing on the victim’s clothing proved that he was not the man who committed the crime. His release from state custody was delayed until August 22, 2006, when he was released from the custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

INCARCERATED:  Mark Bravo Sentenced to 8 years – Served 3 years. On February 20, 1990, Mark Bravo was working as a nurse at the Metropolitan State Hospital in Los Angeles. A long-time patient at the hospital approached a guard and said she had been raped that afternoon. She named several people as her attacker, including Bravo, when she was interviewed by hospital authorities. He was arrested the next morning and charged with rape. Bravo maintained a strong alibi. He said that he left the hospital at 11:00AM and had not returned until after 12:30 PM. He had been in meetings from 1:00PM until after 3:00PM. He claimed that he went home that night not knowing that anyone had been raped that day.

INCARCERATED:  Ulysses Rodriguez Charles Served 17 years in 2001, Ulysses Rodriguez Charles was released from prison after serving 17 years for aggravated rape, robbery, unlawful confinement, and entering armed with intent to commit a felony. His conviction was vacated after DNA testing of semen found on the victim’s bed sheets excluded him. Charles asserts that he had been targeted by a police officer with a vendetta who hid evidence in pursuit of his wrongful conviction.

INCARCERATED:  Luis Diaz Served 25 years On August 3, 2005, Luis Diaz was released from Florida prison after serving 25 years for crimes he did not commit. Diaz was convicted in 1980 as the "Bird Road Rapist." Between 1977 and 1979, over 25 women were attacked in the Bird Road area of Coral Gables, Florida. Many were sexually assaulted after being stopped in their cars. After a highly publicized investigation, Diaz was arrested and charged with 8 rapes attributed to the Bird Road Rapist. In 2005, after 25 years of protesting his innocence, post conviction DNA testing provided powerful proof that Luis Diaz was wrongfully convicted.

INCARCERATED: Alejandro Dominguez served 4 years in 1990, Alejandro Dominguez, and then a 16 year-old Mexican national, was convicted and sentenced to 9 years in prison for the rape of a white woman in Illinois. Dominguez served four years of a nine year sentence. After Immigration and Naturalization Service threatened to deport him for failing to register his conviction in 2001, he sought DNA testing, at his own expense, to prove his innocence. Dominguez was officially exonerated on April 26, 2002, after DNA testing proved that he could not have deposited the semen left by the perpetrator.

INCARCERATED: Hector Gonzalez served 5 years Hector Gonzalez was arrested in December of 1995 and charged with murder. More than five years later, DNA testing proved crucial in establishing his innocence and securing his release. Gonzalez was released on April 24, 2002, after having served over five years of his sentence.

INCARCERATED:  Kathy Gonzales served 5 years Kathy Gonzales agreed with prosecutors to plead guilty and testify falsely to her alleged role in the crime at the trial of co-defendant Joseph White in exchange for a shorter sentence. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison and freed in 1994 after serving nearly five years. She was pardoned in January 2009. 

INCARCERATED: Carlos Lavernia served 15 years In August of 1984, Carlos Lavernia, a Cuban immigrant, was arrested for the rape of a twenty-four year-old woman in Austin, Texas. Austin police linked Lavernia to seven other assaults and charged him as a serial rapist. The principal evidence used to convict Lavernia was the victim's identification of him as the assailant. Only after DNA testing was performed in 2000, fifteen years after he began his sentence was Lavernia able to prove his innocence. Throughout his trial and during his fifteen years in prison, Carlos Lavernia maintained his innocence.

INCARCERATED: James Ochoa Served 10 months Ten months after he pled guilty to carjacking and armed robbery, James Ochoa’s sentence was vacated by a judge and he was released from prison. Though Ochoa had already been excluded from the DNA evidence at the time of trial, prosecutors were sure he did the crime. A routine run of DNA profile from the crime scene evidence through the national CODIS DNA database matched a man in custody for carjacking and who subsequently confessed to this crime, exonerating James Ochoa.

INCARCERATED:  Chris Ochoa served 11.5 years. Nancy DePriest was raped and murdered in her work place in Austin, Texas in 1988. Chris Ochoa pled guilty to the murder of DePriest and his friend, Richard Danziger, was convicted of rape. Ochoa had confessed to the crime and had implicated Danziger. It would be discovered, however, that his confession was coerced and that neither man had anything to do with the slaying or raping of DePriest.

INCARCERATED:  Ricardo Rachel served 5.5 years.  Ricardo Rachel was convicted in 2003 of a Houston child sexual assault he didn’t commit. Although DNA testing was available at the time of his arrest and a sample was collected from Rachell, no testing was conducted before his trial. He served more than five years before DNA testing proved his innocence and led to his release on December 12, 2008.

INCARCERATED:  John Restivo served 16 years. In June 2003, the convictions of Dennis Halstead, John Restivo, and John Kogut were all vacated, and the three defendants were released. In 1986, Halstead and Restivo were tried separately from Kogut, who was also tried and convicted of rape and murder on the theory that the three men had acted together in abducting, raping, and killing the victim. A series of post conviction DNA tests excluded all three men as the rapists and proved that semen from the victim’s body had come from unknown assailant.

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