Quintin Alonzo Freed From Texas Life Jail After 17 Yrs For Murder He Didn’t Commit

by Samuel Abasi Posted on May 31st, 2018

Dallas, Texas, USA:  Quintin Lee Alonzo was sent to prison after being wrongfully convicted of killing Santos Gauna back in 2001. Now, he’s walking free after the real killer, Licho Escamilla, confessed to murdering Santos before he was executed for murdering a police officer in 2015.

After nearly 17 years behind bars, Quintin Alonso walked out of a Dallas County courtroom a free man, smiling and hugging family members.

“It feels good. Thank you,” he said.

Alonso was wrongfully convicted of shooting and killing Santos Guana in 2001, and injuring Guana’s parents, Israel and Cynthia Martinez.

“It is the court’s hope that you can move past the injustice that has been done to you. It t is the court’s hope that your next 17 years will be happier than your last 17,” Judge Carter Thompson told Alonso. “You’re a free man, congratulations.”

Alonso’s daughter was an infant when he was arrested. Now, she is about to graduate from high school. Attorneys say they worked hard to get him released in time to attend her graduation.

“On behalf of the Dallas County District Attorney’s office, I do want to apologize, deeply apologize,” said Dallas County DA Faith Johnson.

Alonso’s is the first major exoneration under Johnson, who took office in 2017 and expanded the Conviction Integrity Unit.

“We never gave up, never,” said Alonso’s aunt, as she hugged him in the courtroom.

Alonso was sentenced to life in prison, and might have never been exonerated if the real killer, hadn’t come forward.

In 2015, Licha Escamilla told the DA’s office that he was the shooter responsible for the crime pinned on Alonso. The confession came just before Escamilla’s execution for another murder later in 2001, the slaying of Dallas Police Officer Kevin James.

Then, months later, he went on to kill a Dallas police officer.

“Only after he was executed were we able to corroborate what he had said to us,” said Johnson.

Only then did the DA’s office learn Escamilla confessed years ago to his attorneys, even before Alonso was convicted. But attorney-client privilege prevented them from saying anything. So Alonso, stayed behind bars.

“Those attorney’s hands were tied and, quite frankly, I cannot imagine how painful that must have been for them,” said Julie Lesser, Alonso’s attorney.

“There was a lot of false evidence that was offered in an effort to make it appear to the jury that the state had an iron-clad case, when in fact they didn’t,” said Alonzo’s attorney Julie Lesser.

Lesser said Alonso’s case exposes gaps still in the system. Even though Escamilla was named a suspect in Guana’s death, someone picked Alonso out of a line-up. Prosecutors agree there was false testimony presented in Alonso’s trial.

“The police did an incredibly poor investigation in this case,” said Lesser. “For the most part, that was the end of the investigation, when an eyewitness wrongfully identified my client… There were a lot of misstatements, a lot of false evidence that was offered to make it look like the state had an ironclad case, but they didn’t.”

Alonso had little to say as he walked out of the courtroom with his family. He was busy making up for lost time.

“I’m blessed, I’m blessed my baby is home,” said Alonso’s mother, through tears.

“He has a daughter he hasn’t seen in a long time, family he wants to spend time with,” said Lesser. “I’m sure he’d like a home-cooked meal.”

“There was a lot of false evidence that was offered in an effort to make it appear to the jury that the state had an iron-clad case, when in fact they didn’t,” said Alonzo’s attorney Julie Lesser.

Nearly three years have passed since Escamilla confessed to the murder, which is why many are asking, what took so long?

“It is very, very difficult to get relief on actual innocence grounds, especially on a non-DNA case,” said Cynthia Garza, Chief of the Conviction Integrity Unity. “There are legal hurdles and legal bars that you have to reach, and you might have a confession, and if it’s not corroborated, then the Court of Criminal Appeals can throw it out.”

While the paperwork still has to go through the Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson says Alonzo will be paid for the time he’s lost.

“It’s unfortunate that he had to endure these many many years of incarceration, but to that extent, he will get some financial compensation,” Johnson said.

We guess that’s a good place to start.

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Samuel Abasi

Samuel Abasi

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