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Two men framed for murder by Chicago detective released from prison after 23 years

July 21, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Two men framed for murder by Chicago detective released from prison after 23 years

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A pair of Chicago men who spent more than two decades behind bars for a murder they say they didn’t commit, finally gained their freedom.

On Wednesday, a judge vacated the convictions for 49-year-old Jose Montanez and 42-year-old Armando Serrano; both men have remained in prison for 23 years for a 1993 murder of Rodrigo Vargas.

Police found Vargas’ body in a van parked near a Chicago elementary school. Montanez and Serrano were convicted of the killing and both subsequently sentenced to 50 years in prison

Lawyers from the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago have argued that an infamous retired Chicago detective coerced a witness to provide false testimony implicating their clients in the homicide.

Officials say a growing body of cases show Chicago police Detective Reynaldo Guevara bullied witnesses into giving false eyewitness accounts.

The city has accumulated $18 million in costs including investigative fees and libel damages as a result of the misconduct allegations involving Guevara.

Investigators discovered at least eight cases built by Guevara involving mostly Hispanic man, who have claimed they were framed by the detective.

In 2005, a jury awarded $15 million to Juan Johnson, a gang member who framed by the detective and served almost 12 years in prison.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the judge agreed to a request submitted by Cook County prosecutors on Wednesday, for a dismissal of the case and immediate release of Montanez and Serrano.

Family members rejoiced upon hearing news of the magistrate’s decision ordering the release of Montanez and Serrano.

“The experience I do not wish upon nobody because it was devastating. It was sad. I had no joy out of life,” said Montanez’s aunt, Carmen. “Twenty-three years without him has been devastating.”

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