On February 27, 1997, Marco with attempted murder and attempted armed robbery at the Compton gas station. Contreras’ vehicle which he had lent to his was in the vicinity at the time of the shooting incident. An eyewitness identified Contreras as the shooter despite the fact that he was sleeping at home after his graveyard shift at the Bellflower hospital where he was a security guard. Marco was tried in LA county superior court in April 1997. The prosecution team presented the evidence that the vehicle (Bronco) in the vicinity at the time of the shooting was registered under Contreras name. The jury convicted Contreras on April 30, 1997. He was sentenced to life in prison. Miguel who was possession of the car at the time of the shooting was convicted alongside Contreras (Walker, 2017). He pled guilty for being an accessory after the fact.
After the release of Miguel in 1997, he reported to Compton Police station that Contreras was not the shooter. A probe by the Sheriff’s Department opened a new investigation which led them to a prominent gang member known as Antonio Salgado who fled to Missouri. The district attorney’s office determined that Contreras was innocent. The newly discovered evidence was the main factor behind the exoneration of Contreras. Exoneration was also propelled by how he steadfastly held onto his innocence and his clamor for the re-investigation of his case (Walker, 2017). Furthermore, the prosecution team attested to the fact that the reinvestigation proved that Salgado had been contracted to kill Garcia (Plaintiff). Salgado admitted to be the gunman in audio recordings.
In conclusion, there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from Contreras case. The erroneous eyewitness identifications accounts for the biggest percentage of the wrongful convictions by the criminal justice system in the United States (Acker, 2012). The judicial system is based on the available evidence, and that is why the court convicted Contreras after Garcia stated that she had witnessed him carrying out the attack. The justice system also tends to be fair enough by offering platform for reinvestigation of the case and subsequent hearings.
- Acker, J. R. (2012). The flipside injustice of wrongful convictions: when the guilty go free. Alb. L. Rev., 76, 1629.
- Walker, T. (2017). After Decades Behind Bars on a Wrongful Conviction, Man to Be Set Free. Criminal Justice Journalism in the Public Interest.