Convicted killers Gabriel Solache and Arturo DeLeon-Reyes will get a hearing to determine whether their confessions to a 1998 double murder could be thrown out.
While Cook County Judge James Obbish declined to overturn the men’s convictions in 2000, his ruling was favorable for the pair whose lawyers say they were brutally coerced to admit to the crimes by now-retired police Detective Reynaldo Guevara.
Guevara, in 2013, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when he took the stand to answer to abuse allegations by Solache and DeLeon-Reyes.
“It is abundantly clear that, the uncontradicted accounts of these specific interactions entailing abuse, coercion and improper influence in addition to the negative inference drawn from Detective Guevara’s assertion of amendment privilege against self-incrimination lend credence to petitioners’ allegations of abuse and coercion,” Obbish wrote in his 35-page ruling.
Solache, DeLeon-Reyes and Adriana Mejia are serving life sentences for the stabbing deaths of Mariano and Jacinta Soto.
Prosecutors said Mejia orchestrated the murders of the Bucktown couple and kidnapping of their children, so she could pretend they were hers.
Solache said during his interrogation Guevara hit him in the face, asked him why he had “done it,” told him he didn’t want any more lies and that something bad would happen to him.
After Solache, now 42, said he was repeatedly punched in the stomach, he confessed to the murders, kidnapping and home invasion but only because he could “not take it.”
DeLeon-Reyes, 43, testified that Guevara immediately slapped him when he came into an interrogation room at Area 5 and hit him whenever he would answer “no” to his questions.
As they sought new trials for their clients, Solache’s and DeLeon-Reyes’ lawyers called on others who said they were abused by Guevara.
“The accounts of the unrelated incidents provided by petitioner are sufficiently similar to the accounts testified to by petitioners in that they all include threats, abuse and coercion to secure statements and occurred within a range of time so as to constitute a pattern and practice. Altogether, these incidents include details implying that Detective Guevara would employ methods to secure a confessional or witness statement by whatever means they could,” Obbish concluded.
In 2009, a federal jury awarded $21 million to Juan Johnson, a man who was wrongfully convicted of murder based on witnesses who later said they only fingered Johnson because Guevara or those working for him told them to.