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Criminal defense: Man released 20 years after wrongful conviction

From time to time, young people will make mistakes. Combining peer pressure with decision-making skills that aren't fully developed can lead teens into very unfortunate circumstances that can result in very serious consequences and entry into the black hole that is the criminal justice system where criminal defense is a must at the earliest points.

In 1993, a young man found himself facing charges for a double murder. When the 16-year-old boy, who lived in a rough neighborhood and dropped out of school, was bragging to his cousin, he said that he'd committed a recent drive-by shooting. Soon, police cornered the teen and pressured him into a confession. The young man was convicted in 1995 and sentenced to prison.

Almost two decades later, light was finally shed on the young man's case. Now a 36-year-old man, the murder suspect was released from prison based on the revelation that he was forced into a false confession.

Subsequent investigations into the murder case uncovered troubling inconsistencies with the teen's written confession. Namely, many of the details provided in the confession didn’t align with the facts of the case. The teen said he was in the vehicle with someone who was incarcerated at the time of the incident and didn't correctly identify the color of the car.

More shockingly, perhaps, is that police used intimidation tactics in order to squeeze out the confession. During interrogation, officers told the boy he would be sexually assaulted in prison or face the death penalty if he didn't confess. Essentially, the teen was coerced into a confession. Law enforcement was more interested in a conviction than the truth.

The 1995 conviction was vacated on appeal in late 2013. At this time, a judge is determining whether or not a new trial will be considered, as the wrongfully accused man is currently out of prison on bond. Moves made by the court will likely dictate his criminal defense strategy moving forward.

Legal observers note that this case is a stunning example of convicted individuals who offer false confessions. This is a problem that's not localized, but affects Atlanta and other jurisdictions throughout the country. This highlights the importance of offering a strong defense in order to expose inconsistencies in evidence when an inaccurate confession is offered.

Source: LATimes.com, "El Paso man convicted of double murder at 16 expected to be freed," Scott Gold, Jan. 13, 2014

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