The Watch

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Prosecutors Spring Perjury Trap In Double Murder Case

Springing a “perjury trap” on a retired police detective, Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx sent a dire signal last week that the prosecutor’s office has moved away from protecting victims of violent crime to pushing the private agenda of wrongful conviction law firms.

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Foxx’s second in command, Eric Sussman, announced on Thursday that his office would not pursue another trial against two men, Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes, convicted in 1998 of stabbing a couple to death and kidnapping their children.

The men had complained they were coerced into confessing by now-retired detective Reynaldo Guevara.

From the Sun-Times:

Cook County prosecutors Thursday dropped charges against two men who claim they were beaten into confessing to a gruesome double-murder, a move that comes a week after a judge blasted the testimony of Reynaldo Guevara, the controversial detective who led the investigation.

For nearly two decades, Gabriel Solache and Arturo DeLeon-Reyes had maintained that they were beaten into giving confessions that were the only evidence against them in the 1998 murder of Jacinta and Mariano Soto. Last week, Judge James Obbish threw out their confessions, finding that Guevara had offered “bold-faced lies” when questioned about their allegations of abuse.

Sussman claimed that the judge’s decision to toss the confessions left the prosecutor’s office with no choice but to let Solache and Reyes out of prison, both men illegal immigrants at the time they entered the home of Jacinta and Mariano Soto, stabbed the couple repeatedly, and then kidnapped their two children.

But Sussman’s hand-wringing over the collapse of the conviction obfuscates the powerful role his administration played in freeing the two killers.

Earlier this year, Sussman forced retired Detective Guevara to testify by granting Guevara immunity. Once granted this “immunity,” Guevara could no longer invoke his Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent.

From the Chicago Tribune:

. . . Guevara’s attorney, Will Fahy, voiced strong suspicions about prosecutors’ motives, saying Guevara has reason to fear they are setting a “perjury trap”—forcing his testimony only in order to accuse him of lying on the stand, a crime that would not be covered by the grant of immunity.

Any inconsistencies with Guevara’s decades-old statements about the murder case could open him up to accusations of perjury, said Fahy, who noted that State’s Attorney Kim Foxx openly criticized Guevara before taking office late last year. In addition, Fahy alluded to the case of disgraced former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge, who was convicted of perjury after denying allegations in a lawsuit that he knew about the torture of criminal suspects.

“There’s something else at play here,” Fahy told the judge.

There is, indeed.

With the “perjury trap” now sprung, the prosecutor’s office has paved the way for wrongful conviction law firms to make Guevara cases a windfall of lawsuits. Foxx, after all, took campaign donations from wrongful conviction law firms and from notorious anti-police crusader George Soros.

Sussman’s strategy to grant immunity was particularly suspicious because it radically contradicted the tactics of Foxx’s predecessor, Anita Alvarez. The Alvarez administration stuck by the Guevara cases. But within weeks of Alvarez’s departure after losing a bitter election to Foxx, Foxx and Sussman embraced the claims that Guevara’s convictions were the result of coercion and the convictions suspect.

This change in tactics in and of itself sent an ominous sign that Foxx and Sussman were siding with wrongful conviction law firms instead of pursuing justice for the victims of violent crimes. It also sent a powerful message to detectives and police officers, as well as their attorneys. Under such a renegade, biased prosecutor’s office, why would any member of law enforcement not invoke the right to remain silent?

But perhaps the most dire aspect of Foxx’s wholesale selling out of her office is the fact that it is taking place in the wake of chilling evidence against the wrongful conviction movement itself.

Consider the image of Karen Daniels, a Northwestern Law School attorney championing the claim that Solache and Reyes are not only the victims of police abuse, but that they are innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. Even Sussman could not maintain the fairy tale of innocence in releasing the men.

Daniels was reportedly waiting at the prison for the two men to get out. Perhaps Daniels was hoping for the now-cliché media image of another convicted killer running into the arms of their crusading attorney, much like Anthony Porter ran into the embracing arms of David Protess in 1999.

The Sun-Times:

But there was no triumphant walk to the prison gates for either Solache or Reyes on Thursday. Both men, Mexican nationals who were undocumented immigrants at the time of their arrest, were transferred from state prisons to Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers, defense attorneys said.

 “They were not free for one split second,” said attorney Karen Daniel, who had waited at the state prison in Pontiac for hours Thursday afternoon before learning Solache had been taken by ICE agents.

Solache and Reyes, whisked off by ICE to Mexico, are two more poster children for President Trump’s calls for immigration reform. Where will they live in Mexico? Will they kill again? Will they make their way back to the United States?

But Daniels’ lingering at the prison points to the other macabre consequence of Sussman and Foxx’s tactics in the Solache and Reyes case. Sussman and Foxx pound their fists about the need to get Guevara to testify as a process of getting to the truth.

But a vast body of evidence claiming deceit on a far grander scale is being leveled against Daniel’s Northwestern University in the federal courts. Attorneys allege a pattern and practice of misconduct in wrongful conviction cases, including framing an innocent man in order to get a guilty murderer off of death row.

It is Sussman and Foxx’s refusal to address this evidence, to wholly ignore it in order to carry the water for wrongful conviction attorneys, that paints the most dire picture of the Foxx administration.

In doing so, a much larger trap is emerging, one aimed at every police officer, every taxpayer, and every victim or their family members.