New lawsuit filed over tossed conviction tied to Reynaldo Guevara

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Thomas Sierra (center) said at a press conference Monday that “it’s still a struggle adjusting. I’d be lying to you if I didn’t tell you that.” | Sam Charles/Sun-Times

A man who served more than 22 years in prison for a 1995 murder filed a federal lawsuit Monday over his conviction, months after the case against him collapsed.

Earlier this year, Thomas Sierra watched Cook County Judge William Lacy toss his conviction for the killing of Noel Andujar, after prosecutors said they could no longer meet the burden required to support the charges against him.

That move came after another judge declared that retired Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara could not be considered a credible witness in any case. Sierra had long claimed Guevara manipulated witnesses into fingering him for the crime.

Now Sierra, who was jailed when he was 19, is suing Chicago, Guevara and several other police officials in a lawsuit filed early Monday.

Reynaldo Guevara. / Sun-Times file photo

Reynaldo Guevara. / Sun-Times file photo

The 11-count suit alleges malicious prosecution, violations of due process, conspiracy to deprive constitutional rights and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

At a press conference Monday afternoon, Sierra said it’s been challenging for him to readjust to life outside of prison, but he hopes his story can help others who have been wrongly convicted.

“You got a lot of guys right now that did their time for the wrongdoing of this guy, of Guevara, and their story wasn’t heard and they’re still fighting for their innocence,” Sierra said. “Something’s got to happen. Something’s got to be done. Same way like other guys’ stories and their exoneration helped me, I hope mine can help the next man.”

For years, Guevara refused to testify in cases where he was accused of beating suspects, once asserting his Fifth Amendment rights in response to roughly 200 questions from a defense lawyer during a single deposition.

Then, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office secured an immunity guarantee for his testimony to get around his Fifth Amendment concerns in another case. Guevara testified that he did not remember even minor details about the case at issue, prompting Judge James Obbish to declare he told “bald-faced lies.”

Contributing: Andy Grimm

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