It took over a decade, but the false conviction has finally been overturned and the officers were called out for their illegal activities.
A teenager’s murder conviction was overturned Friday by a federal appeals court. The judge ruled the Los Angeles Police Department violated the teen’s rights by denying his request for a lawyer and forcing him into a confession, reported The Los Angeles Times.
Jessie Rodriguez was 14-years-old in 2005 when LAPD questioned him about a gang-related shooting that left a woman dead and her boyfriend injured.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the detectives in question continued to question Rodriguez even after the juvenile requested an attorney.
The detectives told Rodriguez that he was going to be charged with murder and suggested that his cooperation would lead to leniency in his case. The court ruled that the confession Rodriguez subsequently made was coerced.
Rodriguez was found guilty of second-degree murder (doc) in the 2005 drive-by shooting death of Cynthia Portillo and guilty of attempted murder of her boyfriend, Manuel Penaloza. He was sentenced to 15 years to life for the murder, plus a 25 years for a firearms use enhancement with a 15-year minimum parole eligibility due to the gang enhancement for the murder. For the attempted murder of Penaloza, he received a consecutive sentence of 9 years, plus 25 years for a firearms use enhancement and ten years for the gang enhancement.
According to court documents, Penaloza was a non-cooperative witness who somewhat reluctantly picked Rodriguez out of a photographic lineup.
At a pretrial hearing, Rodriguez testified that while transporting him to central station for booking, the detectives pressured him to confess and told him that two other members of his gang had already “told police everything.” He testified that he wrote his confession because detectives told him that if he did, he would stay in juvenile hall and not be transferred to prison.
Rodriguez can now be retried by prosecutors. Neither the Los Angeles district attorney’s office nor the state attorney general’s office have commented on whether that will happen or not.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)