Prosecutors drop conviction in 1991 murder case tainted by CPD detective

Daniel Rodriguez is the 21st person to be cleared in a murder case based by former Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara.

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Daniel Rodriguez gives a thumbs up while speaking during a news conference Monday afternoon at the law offices of Loevy & Loevy after prosecutors agreed to throw out his 1991 murder conviction. Rodriguez spent more than 30 years claiming he was framed by former Chicago Police detective Reynaldo Guevara.

Daniel Rodriguez gives a thumbs up while speaking during a news conference Monday afternoon at the law offices of Loevy & Loevy after prosecutors agreed to throw out his 1991 murder conviction. Rodriguez spent more than 30 years claiming he was framed by former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Prosecutors on Monday agreed to throw out a 1991 murder conviction of Daniel Rodriguez, who spent more than 30 years claiming he was framed by former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara.

Rodriguez choked up repeatedly during a news conference at his lawyers’ office, recalling how he had always believed — even during the 13 years he spent in prison for the murder of Jose “Junito” Hernandez Jr. — he would clear his name. At a brief hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Monday, prosecutors dropped their demand for an evidentiary hearing that would likely have again seen the retired detective on the witness stand. Judge Sophia Atcherson vacated Rodriquez’s conviction, the 21st time a case handled by Guevara had been overturned based on allegations of misconduct by the detective, his lawyer said.

“I woke up every day believing that one day the cell door was going to open and they were going to say, ‘We made a mistake. You’re free.’” Rodriguez said. “But it never happened.

“I’ve been home 14 years, I’ve been a law-abiding citizen, I pay taxes... I knew this day would come. I just never thought it would take so long.”

Former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse after a 2013 hearing. A judge Monday vacated the conviction of Daniel Rodriguez, who had for more than 30 years claimed he was framed by Guevara for a Humboldt Park murder.

Former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse after a 2013 hearing. A judge Monday vacated the conviction of Daniel Rodriguez, who had for more than 30 years claimed he was framed by Guevara for a Humboldt Park murder.

Sun-Times file photo

Rodriguez was convicted based on a confession he had long claimed was the result of threats and physical abuse by Guevara, a witness who has since recanted and said he too was threatened by Guevara and his partner, and testimony from another witness who was not only the son of Guevara’s girlfriend but also had been paid thousands of dollars of “relocation” payments by prosecutors before he testified against Rodriguez and at hearings in other Guevara cases as recently as 2016.

The ruling paves the way for Rodriguez to pursue a certificate of innocence and to file a lawsuit against Guevara and the city. Rodriguez is the 21st person to have their conviction overturned in a case tainted by alleged misconduct by Guevara, according to Rodriguez’s lawyer Josh Tepfer of the Exoneration Project.

The city in September paid out $20.5 million to Armando Serrano and Jose Montanez, who each spent 23 years in prison after being framed by Guevara. Guevara for years has refused to answer questions about his investigations, taking the Fifth in numerous hearings.

Cook County Judge James Obbish in 2016 said Guevara responded with“bald-faced lies” when the retired detective was compelled to answer questions under oath in 2016, after prosecutors agreed to grant him immunity for his testimony about the case against Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes.

Rodriguez’s attorney, Anand Swaminathan, said Monday that there are “dozens” of pending cases in which defendants have claimed they were framed by Guevara.

Daniel Rodriguez speaks during a news conference Monday afternoon at the law offices of Loevy & Loevy after prosecutors agreed to throw out his 1991 murder conviction. Rodriguez spent more than 30 years claiming he was framed by former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara.

Daniel Rodriguez speaks during a news conference Monday afternoon at the law offices of Loevy & Loevy after prosecutors agreed to throw out his 1991 murder conviction. Rodriguez spent more than 30 years claiming he was framed by former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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