After spending nearly two decades in jail for a murder he didn’t commit, Geraldo Iglesias finally had his conviction overturned by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office on Wednesday. Iglesias was among 50 defendants who say they were framed for murder by retired Chicago detective Reynaldo Guevara. With his exoneration, Iglesias becomes the 10th person investigated by Guevara to be set free in the last two years.
Iglesias was convicted in 1993 for the murder of Monica Roman, who was shot and killed while sitting in a car in Humboldt Park, Chicago, reports BuzzFeed News. There were reasons to doubt Iglesias was the killer—namely, he didn’t match the description witnesses on the scene gave police. As BuzzFeed News writes, “witnesses told the first responders on the scene that the shooter was a teen, light complexioned, and alone. Iglesias was 25 at the time and brown-skinned.” At the time, Iglesias also worked as a gang interventionist with the Boys & Girls Club.
But a jailhouse informant, Francisco Vicente, allegedly told Guevara and his partner, Ernest Halvorsen, that Iglesias confessed the crime to him. As it turns out, a lot of people were confessing murders to Vicente at that time.
That jailhouse informant, Francisco Vicente, told police that he had allegedly received five separate confessions in three separate murder cases over the span of six weeks in 1993. Vicente has since given sworn statements claiming police fed him details of the crimes and coerced his false testimony.
Iglesias was released from prison in 2010, but has spent the better part of the past decade attempting to clear his name. He found work in construction, writes the Chicago Sun-Times, but his conviction repeatedly came up during job interviews and housing searches. It wasn’t until this week that the State’s Attorney’s Office decided to stop defending his conviction, writing in a statement to BuzzFeed News, “we no longer have confidence in the integrity of this case. Therefore, in the interest of justice, the State’s Attorney’s Office will not pursue charges.”
Still, while Iglesias’ name has now been cleared, he will never be able to get back the 17 years he spent in prison. Following the State’s decision to drop the charges, the Sun Times reports Iglesias told reporters about how he missed his son’s childhood (his child was just an infant when Iglesias was arrested).
Iglesias is the 19th defendant claiming to be framed by Det. Guevara to be exonerated in a murder case. Currently, 17 more are still imprisoned.
As CBS 2 Chicago reports, the City of Chicago has paid out “tens of millions of dollars” to settle wrongful conviction lawsuits against the former detective. But there is a statistic even more stunning than CBS highlights: the thrown-out convictions connected to Guevera—who, at this point, is unlikely to see the inside of a jail cell—total more than 300 years.