Woman seeks pardon in murder case allegedly tainted by infamous Chicago cop

Marilyn Mulero says she was coerced into confessing by Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara.

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Marilyn Mulero is serving life in prison for the 1992 shooting deaths of Jimmy Cruz and Hector Reyes in Humboldt Park.

Marilyn Mulero


A woman who has spent 27 years behind bars for a murder she says was wrongfully pinned on her by a disgraced Chicago cop is seeking a pardon by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Five members of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board heard arguments on why Marilyn Mulero should be granted a pardon or issued a commutation for time served during a hearing Wednesday at the Thompson Center.

The board will make a recommendation to Pritzker, who will make the final decision.

Mulero and her friend, Jacqueline Montanez, were charged with the 1992 shooting deaths of two men — Jimmy Cruz and Hector Reyes — in Humboldt Park.

Though Mulero provided a written confession, she has since said it was coerced by Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara.

Mulero alleges that during a 20-hour interrogation Guevara physically threatened her, threatened her with lethal injection and said her children would be taken from her, Mulero’s attorney, Justin Brooks, of the California Innocence Project, said Wednesday.

Witness testimony implicating Mulero as a shooter has also been discredited, Brooks said.

Montanez has since confessed to killing both men, who were rival gang members. A video of that confession was provided to the Prison Review Board, Brooks said.

“The fact that Montanez later took responsibility for both murders has been largely ignored because Mulero’s confession has been a hard thing to get past,” said Brooks, who has worked on Mulero’s case for more than two decades.

After years of trying and failing in state court to prove Mulero’s innocence, Brooks sees help from an Illinois governor as her last option. 

Her case has been denied twice before by former Governors Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn.

But Brooks believes Pritzker will see the case through a different lens — one colored by a well-established pattern that Guevara has tampered with evidence and witnesses to frame many innocent people for murder. 

So far, 19 men who claim to be victims of similar frame-ups by Guevara have been exonerated of murder in recent years.

A decision by Pritzker could come in weeks, but is more likely months away.

“The governor can grant mercy to someone who deserves mercy, and the governor should do that in this case,” attorney Lauren Kaeseberg, of the Illinois Innocence Project, said after the hearing.

Mulero is serving life in prison.

Guevara retired from the Chicago Police Department in 2005 after more than three decades working as a detective on the Northwest Side. He now lives in Texas.

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