Monday, July 14, 2008

Two-and-a-half years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit

Confessions for rapes sometimes turn out to be unreliable. How do we know? DNA tell us beyond any reasonable doubt.

The man in the story below apparently suffered from a mental illness when he confessed to a rape and murder he didn't commit. "For Robert, it basically was a matter of finding out 'What is it that these police officers want me to say,?' When he found out, he said it."

This is a frightening fact that tells us much about the zeal of some police officers seeking to convict a person they have pegged as a criminal.

And it's just another reason why the rights of men charged with rape need to be guarded zealously, lest an innocent man be convicted.


Charges Dismissed Against Child Rape, Murder Suspect

DNA Test Exonerates Gonzales In Victoria Sandoval Case

The District Attorney's office Friday dismissed the case against 22-year old Robert Gonzales for the 2005 death of 11-year old Victoria Sandoval.

Robert Gonzales has been in jail for more than two and a half years after a grand jury thought his confession was enough to hold him in the case.

That was before DNA tests came back that didn't match.

Now authorities have the person who matches the DNA in custody and said that man will be charged.

Israel Diaz is the man police now believe raped and killed 11-year old Victoria Sandoval on Halloween night in 2005.
. . . .
"What shocked us is that we weren't able to prove a connection with Mr. Gonzalez and Diaz," said District Attorney Kari Brandenburg.

It is a crime Gonzales confessed to and even though his DNA didn't match, the district attorney believed he was with Sandoval when she died.

"We though all along Robert Gonzalez was involved because of his confession, and because his confession was corroborated with some of the physical evidence," said Brandenburg.

During the past three years, lawyers have argued Gonzales isn't competent to stand trial because he has a history of mental illness.

"For Robert, it basically was a matter of finding out 'What is it that these police officers want me to say,?'" said Buckels. " When he found out, he said it."

The district attorney's office said if further investigation shows they can link Gonzales to the crime, they can re-file, although they admit they don't expect that to happen.

Gonzales was released from jail late Friday afternoon.
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