Prosecutors drop another murder case handled by former Chicago Police detective Reynaldo Guevara
Edwin Davila served nearly 25 years in prison for a 1995 shooting he has always claimed he did not commit.
Edwin Davila’s girlfriend was two months pregnant when he was arrested for murder in 1995. Though he always claimed he was innocent, Davila was convicted and didn’t see his son outside prison walls until he served out his sentence nearly 25 years later.
At a brief hearing Tuesday, prosecutors wiped out his conviction for the 1995 murder of Jamie Alvarez, the latest in a string of more than 30 murder cases to be overturned based on allegations of misconduct by former Chicago Police detective Reynaldo Guevara.
Standing beside Edwin Jr., now 27, in front of a crowd of reporters in the courthouse lobby, Davila was asked what lesson he tried to impart to his son during his yearslong quest to clear his name.
“Never give up,” Davila said. “That’s the one thing. I never gave up.”
Prosecutors Tuesday did not say why they moved to vacate Davila’s conviction and drop the charges, effectively clearing the case from his record. But murder cases based on Guevara’s investigations throughout the 1990s have been unraveling in recent years, as the retired detective has refused to answer questions about allegations he framed dozens of men for murder.
Some 33 men convicted of murders investigated by Guevara have had their convictions thrown out because of allegations Guevara framed the defendant, often by threatening witnesses into making false statements identifying the shooter.
Davila will seek a certificate of innocence, which will allow him to receive a payout from a state fund for wrongfully convicted defendants, as well as assistance finding a job and counseling services, said his lawyer, Russell Ainsworth. He has not yet filed a civil lawsuit against the city, as have numerous other defendants who have had their convictions tossed because of allegations against Guevara.
Alvarez was gunned down in the early morning hours of July 2, 1995, after a car chase that began when rival gang members drove through Wicker Park. Witnesses said one of the passengers hopped out and ran to a gangway and came back firing a gun, striking Alvarez and friend Michael Ybarra. Alvarez died of his wounds a few days later.
The day of the shooting, Ybarra told police he could not identify the shooter, but a week later, after Guevara took over the investigation, he picked Davila out of a lineup, according to a post-trial motion filed by Davila’s lawyer. Guevara had become fixated on Davila as a suspect after he happened on the then 21-year-old working on a car near the shooting scene, days after Alvarez was gunned down. The detective manipulated the lineup procedures to single out Davila, his lawyers said.
In recent years, dozens of men have alleged that Guevara framed them, and Guevara, who retired in 2006, has refused to answer questions under oath about his investigations. In 2017, after Guevara was called to testify with a grant of immunity from prosecutors, the retired detective repeatedly said he didn’t remember when questioned about allegations he beat suspects and witnesses to build a bogus case against Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes in brutal 1998 double-murder in Wicker Park.
In a scathing ruling, Judge James Obbish said Guevara told “bald-faced lies” during his time on the stand and could no longer be considered a credible witness in any court proceeding.