A brave man who spent close to three decades in prison for charges of kidnapping, rape, and robbery has been officially declared innocent and set free.
DNA Revealed the Truth
Gerardo Cabanillas, a US citizen, 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 a shocking truth.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office took the initiative to reexamine Cabanillas’ case through their Conviction Integrity Unit.
Their relentless efforts ended in a landmark decision to overturn his conviction, citing factual innocence and securing his release.
District Attorney George Gascon offered profound apologies to Gerardo Cabanillas for the miscarriage of justice and the evident failure of the legal system.
Glaring Doubts Back Then
“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?
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.
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.
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.
The pivotal moment arrived when DNA testing on the rape kit proved that two different individuals were the actual perpetrators of the heinous crime.
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.
Lying to Prisoners Permitted
“False confessions are one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions in the United States,” said interim director Alissa Bjerkhoel.
Bjerkhoel then 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.”
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.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Guitarfoto
Source: Sky News