A brave man who spent nearly three decades in prison for charges of kidnapping, rape, and robbery has been declared innocent and set free.
A Long-Held Injustice Unveiled
A US citizen, Gerardo Cabanillas, was wrongfully convicted in 1996 for a horrifying 1995 attack on a couple in a parked car in California. However, recent advancements in DNA testing have unraveled the shocking truth.
The District Attorney’s Office Steps In
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office took the initiative to reexamine Cabanillas’ case through their Conviction Integrity Unit.
Hard Work Reveals Evidence for Release
Their relentless efforts ended in a landmark decision to overturn his conviction, citing factual innocence and securing his release.
Profound Apologies and Acknowledgment of Failure
District Attorney George Gascon offered profound apologies to Gerardo Cabanillas for the miscarriage of justice and the evident failure of the legal system.
An Apology That Falls Flat
“I extend my deepest apologies to Mr Cabanillas for the miscarriage of justice and the failure of our criminal legal system,” Gascon said, but how will an apology make up for nearly 30 years behind bars?
Years Spent Behind Bars
Mr. Cabanillas had endured a harrowing 28 years of incarceration, bearing the weight of a crime he didn’t commit. Falsely charged after a brutal attack, he faced life behind bars for a crime he was innocent of.
A Chilling Crime and an Unjust Conviction
The initial accusations stemmed from a 1995 assault where a couple was victimized while parked in South Gate, California. Despite glaring doubts in the case, Mr. Cabanillas was convicted, and his life took a nightmarish turn.
A Confession and Manipulation of Justice
Cabanillas confessed under circumstances that have become all too common – a coerced admission of guilt. Victims identified him under pressure; an identification later revealed to be flawed and pressured.
DNA Evidence Unveils the Truth
The pivotal moment arrived when DNA testing on the rape kit proved that two different individuals were the true perpetrators of the heinous crime.
A System Rife With Injustice
The case of Gerardo Cabanillas is all too common in the US judicial system due to admissions, often extracted through deception and pressure, resulting in numerous wrongful convictions.
Police Tactics Questioned As False Confessions Are Rife
“False confessions are one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions in the United States,” said interim director Alissa Bjerkhoel.
“Gerardo Would’ve Spent The Rest Of His Life In Prison”
Bjerkhoel admitted, “Police are permitted to lie to suspects, including promises of leniency if the person confesses. That is exactly what happened here, and if it was not for the DNA evidence, Gerardo would have spent the rest of his life in prison.”
Gerardo’s Second Chance
The California Innocence Project, tirelessly advocating for the wrongly accused, represented Gerardo Cabanillas in this fight for justice. Now, finally free, he embarks on a journey of rebuilding his life.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock /asiandelight. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.