Updated Thursdays

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gilbert Amezquita

In 1998 Gilbert Amezquita, an Army Reserve soldier with a clean criminal record, was arrested for the vicious beating of a co-worker, who identified her assailant as 'Gilbert', and picked his photo out of a line-up.  Although when the police questioned him he provided evidence that another man, Gilbert Guerrero, had comitted the assault, it was ignored. At the trial, the victim identified him as her attacker. DNA from beneath the victim's fingernails was collected, but never tested.

"At trial, requests from Amezquita's lawyer and prosecutors to test DNA evidence from the crime scene were rejected by state District Judge Belinda Hill, leaving Bingham's(the victim) testimony as crucial."
The defendant was denied the use of exculpatory evidence to prove his innocence, and Amezquita was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The HCDA must have been patting itself on the back when that sentence was handed down. What a neat, cut-and-dried case! Gilbert did it, now Gilbert's going to prison. Who cared that Gilbert Guerrero had inexplicably come into posession of the victim's cell phone and made several calls directly after the assault, before trading it for drugs?

 Why worry about the fact that Guerrero had a noisy argument with the victims's brother just before the assault? (The argument was about how he had been harassing the victim.) No, Guerrero, a parolee with a history of violent assaults could not possibly have been the assailant. After all, the victim identified the other Gilbert, the soldier with the impeccable record.
Amezquita appealed his case from prison. For five years. He  "asserted a number of claims, including allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel."

Finally the Appeals court denied his appeal, then two weeks after that, reversed itself and granted the appeal. Earlier that month, the appeals court had refused Amezquita's request for a new trial even though the original trial judge reccomended it.
There was no DNA evidence produced at the appeal. It went against the testimony of the victim who continued to insist that it was Amezquita who attacked her, even when all the actual, physical evidence pointed to Guerrero.
But somehow, Amezquita gained his freedom. And a 'Pardon based on actual innocence'.
Yes, they generously pardoned him for a crime there was no proof he comitted. Altogether it took him 9 years to clear his name, eight of which were spent in prison.
The victim insists to this day that Amezquita attacked her, despite the evidence indicating it was Guerrero.

So what did the DA's office say? Did they apologize? Promise not to let it happen again?
"Rosenthal...wrote that "an adequate investigation by the defense (trial) counsel'' would have revealed that Guerrero had Bingham's phone shortly after the assault."
Do you hear that, defense lawyers of Harris county? Not only is it your job to defend your clients, now you also have to do the job of the police investigators and forensics experts! Thanks, Rosenthal!

If this man, convicted with no evidence and exonerated with none can make it out of prison, so can Carlos Coy. We just need to continue taking an interest in his case. Expand his fan base, write letters, don't give up!

Read more: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4770606.html#ixzz1QLEqSHfd

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