28 mayo, 2022

After 22 years in jail for murder, a San Felipe resident says he is innocent

ALFREDO AZCARATE VARELA
THE BAJA POST/EDITOR

About 22 years ago, the son of a young woman from San Felipe, with battered child syndrome background, was found dead, she and her romantic partner found him like that in the morning, they called the Police, but the couple was charged with murder, they never accepted blame or pointed at each other, the case was based on an autopsy, carried out by two doctors who did not have a forensic specialty, initiating a series of irregularities in the process that followed.

The woman was taken to Juvenile Court and set free after a few months, but after 20 years in prison, Roberto «N» says he is innocent, his case went from the Old to the New Justice System, the so called Oral Justice, a change of Mexico´s Criminal Justice Law which took place while he was locked up, a change that meant a more fair and faster Justice, and he had the right to change his case to this system.

It gave him the opportunity to prove his innocence, because according to him, his process was filled with irregular procedures, such as discarded supervening evidence, which is evidence still unknown at a given point in time in the process, and it has a close and intimate connection with the facts that were judged and now she asks that they be taken into account in the reopening of her case.

Likewise, his defender explained, the Old Procedural Code was not applied correctly, the public defender who acted in the investigation by Roberto did not have a Title or Professional Certificate, in addition there was no deposition of the mother of the victim against Roberto and on the contrary , if she admitted having mistreated the minor.

“The greatest injustice against someone is to deprive them of a properly accredited defense attorney, Roberto did not have one, and he has been in prison for 21 years, locked up, this the first day that he has left El Hongo Prison, in all those years,” said the lawyer at the hearing that took place on March 16 in the Third Chamber of the Superior Court of Justice of the State, made up of Judges Dolores Moreno, Sonia Mireya Beltran and Judge Armando Vazquez.

Therefore, Roberto considers the 32 years prison sentence, a total injustice that has robbed him of 21 years of his life, for this reason, this Recognition of Innocence hearing has been promoted, and he states that all the evidence against him should be discarded because he didn´t have a Lawyer with a valid Bar accreditation.

At no stage of the Trial, none of his alleged Defenders was a Certified Lawyer, this just goes to show the old criminal justice system was a failed system; therefore Roberto should be released immediately as there is not a single piece of evidence to incriminate him and never have had a lawyer.

A preacher who celebrates religious services in the El Hongo Prison, heard Roberto’s story and asked for the opinion of a lawyer, who requested the case file and, in the first instance, in 2016 took the matter as a free social cause (pro- bono) and requested to transfer Roberto’s process from the Old to the New justice system, but bad actions and bad judicial decisions prolonged the matter, until a Federal Judge of Tijuana grants an Amparo (which is a legal resource to appeal Government decisions that may affect a ´person’s rights)so that the case is transferred to the New Justice System Oral.

However, between Mexicali Judges didn’t want to move his case to the New Justice System, and the courts shutdown due to the pandemic, Roberto’s case attention was delayed, and finally, in January 2022, a hearing was granted and postponed, in February a hearing was held by Zoom, on March 16,  Roberto was able to appear in person before a Court for the first time since in the original Trial, he was never present at the hearings in clear violation of due process, his lawyer and the State Attorney exposed their arguments.

On the other hand, the Agent of the Public Ministry (State Attorney) stated that, despite all the irregularities, there had been a fair trial 21 years ago, that Roberto promoted an appeal for amparo that did not proceed, but above all, he assured that it cannot be established that due process had been violated, which is the basis of the defense in this case, he is against an innocence verdict for Roberto, and says there was no due process violation whatsoever..

This matter, in which Roberto affirms that the Human Right to a Fair Trial was completely denied to him, because he never had a Lawyer to defend him 21 years ago, could generate an important precedent for Justice in Baja California where criminal cases will be reopened by those who were surely victims of the old criminal justice system, and they affirm, they could add up to hundreds of people.

This Tuesday Roberto used his right to address the Court, assured that despite the fact that a great injustice was committed and maintain his innocence, he assured that he has served his sentence with good behavior and discipline, even participating in artistic activities inside El Hongo, «I have already lost 21 years of my life» he said, «I am innocent and I only ask for justice and that they allow me to return to my family, let me try to be happy»

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