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Grimm, Sun Times Soft Peddle Immigration Fight In Controversial Exoneration

Despite prosecutors, law firm saying they believe men are guilty, two once convicted killers may try to remain in the country...

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When the chips are down, the wrongful conviction industry can always rely on Andy Grimm and the Sun-Times.

This time the Sun-Times reporter goes to bat for a consortium of wrongful conviction law firms/schools that have worked hard to get two convicted killers declared “wrongfully convicted” and out of prison, even as the prosecutors who released them said they believed the men were guilty.

Welcome to Chicago.

Grimm delivers this time on an article about two men whose convictions for a 1998 double murder were vacated in December. The two men, Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes, were set free after prosecutors under Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx decided not to retry them. The men had won a new trial after their attorneys claimed they were coerced into confessing to the 1998 murders of Jacinta and Mariano Soto, who were repeatedly stabbed in their own apartment. According to prosecutors, the three offenders then kidnapped the Sotos’ children.

Reyes got life. Solache was sentenced to death but was saved from execution by Governor George Ryan, who ended the death penalty in Illinois in 2003 under pressure from the wrongful conviction crowd.

A third offender in the case, Adriana Mejia, who fingered them as co-offenders, remains in prison.

According to prosecutors’ theory in the trial, the couple was murdered in a bizarre plot by the three accused to kidnap their newborn child. Another child was also kidnapped.

Fortunately for the attorneys of the two men, they have a powerful ally in CCSA Kimberly Foxx and her top people, including Eric Sussman. Unlike her predecessor, Anita Alvarez, Foxx’s administration has bought into the police misconduct claims made against Guevara in several cases.

So it was of little surprise to law enforcement that after the judge tossed Solache’s and Reye’s confessions, based on the police misconduct theory, these prosecutors declined to retry the two men, at the same time admitting they believed they were likely guilty.

From the Chicago Tribune:

First Assistant State’s Attorney Eric Sussman said prosecutors still strongly believe Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes are guilty of the 1998 fatal stabbing of a couple in their Bucktown neighborhood home. . . .

If Sussman believed they were guilty, didn’t he have an obligation to retry them?

At the time of the murders, the men were in the United States illegally. So, amidst the media frenzy that attends every prison release of a “wrongfully convicted” person by Chicago journalists just like Andy Grimm, Solache and Reyes were reportedly whisked away by federal immigration officials before they could be released.

Talk about spoiling the wrongful conviction party.

The two have apparently been in federal custody ever since. But signs are emerging that their attorneys are finagling a way to allow them to either stay in the country or return.  

From Grimm’s article:

Solache may go free on $7,500 bond as soon as Friday, said Jessey Neves, spokeswoman for the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University. Immigration officials also appealed Reyes[’] request to voluntarily return to Mexico as soon as next week, said Vân B[.] Huynh, the immigration lawyer handling his case.

Solache no longer has family in the U.S., and intends to return voluntarily to Mexico after settling his affairs in the U.S., Daniel said. Neither man had yet attempted to use their long incarceration or the allegations of police abuse to qualify for a “U Visa,” which is legal resident status offered to immigrants who are crime victims.

Even Grimm can’t hide in his article the apparent tension in the federal agencies at the thought of Solache and Reyes staying in this country. But Grimm devotedly and obediently piles on the social justice rhetoric on behalf of the attorneys representing the once-convicted murderers.

At an immigration hearing this week in Chicago, officials presented the two confessions obtained by Guevara in 1992, as well as confessions from co-defendant Adriana Mejia and two witness statements, Huynh said. An immigration judge ruled that since the confessions had been ruled inadmissible, he would not consider them in weighing whether to grant bond.

In his article, Grimm grudgingly mentions that the prosecutors still thought the men were guilty of the murder. But he altogether ignores that the case was farmed out to a third-party law firm by the city for review.

And their conclusion?

“In fact, we have concluded that evidence available to us leads us to reject their claims of actual innocence.”

In other words, they concluded that the two men likely did ruthlessly and repeatedly stab a couple with a newborn baby and another child in their apartment, blood splattered even onto the walls.

Here’s something Grimm doesn’t discuss either, the last and most crucial stage in the wrongful conviction crusade from criminal to victimhood: the inevitable lawsuit and multimillion-dollar settlement against a city besieged with such claims, besieged in large part because of journalists like Andy Grimm. 

So before the rest of the country can weigh in, before the media outlets outside the borders of Chicago can dig into the magnitude of what may be truly taking shape in the Solache and Reyes saga, Grimm goes to work soft-peddling the chilling possibility that two men prosecutors still believe knifed a couple to death might remain in the country.

UPDATE: SOLACHE GETS OUT

Sun Times:

A man released from prison in December after serving nearly 20 years for a double-murder, only to land in an immigration detention facility, went free on bond Friday...Solache posted $7,500 bond and left the downtown Chicago Immigration Court building around noon. Reyes, who has agreed to voluntarily return to Mexico, still is in custody; ICE attorneys have said they intend to appeal his request to leave voluntarily, instead favoring a forced removal that would make it more difficult for Reyes to return to the United States legally someday.