Chicago, Illinois, USA: Mexican immigrant, Ricardo Rodriguez, 44, who says retired Chicago Police Department detective Reynaldo Guevara, framed him for murder was just exonerated after 22 years in prison, making him the eighth Guevara defendant exonerated since April 2017.
Ricardo Rodriguez has been in prison for a 1995 Humboldt Park, Chicago murder. After a request from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office Tuesday, a judge vacated the conviction and dismissed all charges against Ricardo Rodriguez.
His 60 years-in-prison conviction resulted in a revocation of Rodriguez’s permanent resident status. At the time of the crime, he was a lawful permanent resident.
He is the eighth Guevara defendant exonerated since Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx took office in December 2016. Foxx pledged to review the Guevara cases when she campaigned for the office. Her office has asked Cook County Commissioners for more funding to help review dozens more cases tied to Guevara.
A spokesperson for Foxx’s office said the state “was unable to meet our burden” in Rodriguez’s case.
Rodriguez’s attorney, Tara Thompson of the Exoneration Project, credited Foxx’s office for its review and “seeing this was the right outcome here.”
Rodriguez was not immediately released Tuesday and remains in custody in Dixon, Illinois due to questions about his legal status. Rodriguez won’t have the happy homecoming from prison. Rodriguez was born in Mexico and had permanent resident status in the US. After he was convicted in 1996, an order for his deportation was issued. Thompson said Rodriguez will fight his removal from the US, his home since childhood.
“He’s suffered so much,” Thompson said, “that for deportation to be an additional consequence of this wrongful conviction would be a travesty of justice.”
Rodriguez was sentenced to at least 60 years for a 1995 Humboldt Park murder conviction in the death of Randy Kamppainen, a homeless man. His conviction was based on the investigation of disgraced, retired Chicago Police Det. Reynaldo Guevara. Multiple convictions of men who spent decades in prison in Guevara-investigated cases have been vacated.
“For decades the community has known that Det. Guevara was involved in wrongful convictions, and we are grateful that the courts are taking notice and that Kim Foxx’s office took action in this case,” said Rodriguez’s attorney Tara Thompson.
Chicago Police Department detective Reynaldo Guevara , who retired in 2005, is accused by at least 56 people of framing them for murders from the 1980s through the early 2000s in the rough-and-tumble Humboldt Park section of Chicago. His alleged misdeeds led 48 men and one woman to be sentenced to a total of more than 2,300 years in prison. Three were acquitted. Five received life sentences. Three were sentenced to death but spared when in 2003 Gov. George Ryan, disturbed by a rash of wrongful convictions, commuted all death sentences to life or less. Two men died behind bars, including Daniel Peña, an illiterate man who testified Guevara beat him into signing a confession he couldn’t read.
In 2013, faced with a number of exonerations of Guevara defendants and the possibility of numerous civil lawsuits seeking large payouts, the city ordered an independent review of Guevara cases, and, in 2015, determined that four imprisoned men were more than likely innocent.
So far, seven men Guevara had helped put behind bars have seen their convictions overturned, and 12 others have served their time and been released. One of them, Juan Johnson, later won a record $21 million judgment against the city of Chicago because of Guevara’s misconduct in his case.
But at least 29 men who say Guevara framed them remain in prison or on parole.
Guevara’s alleged misconduct in the annals of egregious policing betrayals in modern history, rival the Rampart scandal in Los Angeles in the 1990s, when more than 100 convictions were tossed based on police corruption; the crack-era sentences of the 1970s and ‘80s in Brooklyn, when dozens of defendants accused Detective Louis Scarcella of manufacturing evidence against them; and in Chicago, where during the ‘70s and ‘80s former Commander Jon Burge led a team of detectives to beat — and even electrocute — more than 100 men, most of them black, on the city’s South Side into confessions.