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Framed by Dirty Chicago Detective Reynaldo Guevara, Marilyn Mulero Is Exonerated After 28 Years in Prison

by Jo Ellen Nott

On August 9, 2022, a Cook County judge in Chicago, Illinois granted motions filed by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to dismiss all charges against Marilyn Mulero, wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in 1993 for the murder of two Latin King gang members.  Ms. Mulero’s exoneration ended 28 years of unjust incarceration resulting from a coerced confession, negligent defense, police corruption, and prosecutorial misconduct.

The miscarriage of justice suffered by Mulero began with the actions of disgraced former Chicago detective Reynaldo Guevara.  The day following the murders, Chicago police arrested Mulero and fellow suspect Jackie Montanez and ratted them out to Latin King members as the killers of their homeboys.  Mulero and Montanez were then taken to the police station and separated.  Mulero underwent 20 hours of interrogation without sleep or legal counsel. Guevara threatened her with losing her two toddlers and receiving a lethal injection. The tortuous interrogation resulted in Mulero signing a confession. 

A trial court denied the motion to suppress the confession, and Mulero’s defender advised her to plead guilty in 1993.  A jury gave Mulero the death penalty, and her public defender quit the legal profession to join the priesthood after the sentencing. The Illinois Supreme Court overturned the conviction in May 1997 because of prosecutorial misconduct. Mulero was resentenced to life without parole in 1998. 

The California Innocence Project, the University of Illinois Springfield’s Illinois Innocence Project, and the University of Chicago Law School Exoneration Project successfully helped Mulero with a clemency petition. Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) granted the petition in 2020 and reduced her sentence to time served. By that time, Mulero had spent 28 years incarcerated unjustly.  Pritzker has granted clemency or exoneration to 147 individuals since January 2021.

In August 2022, Marilyn Mulero became the 190th person to be exonerated from death row. Cook County, Illinois, has the largest number of death-row exonerations in the United States.  Most of those exonerations were the result of misconduct by police or prosecutors.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 31 wrongful convictions were the result of Reynaldo Guevara’s dirty detective work to frame defendants in more than 50 cases.  Guevara is accused of beating, threatening, and coercing subjects into false confessions.  The Chicago Tribune reported in 2018 that Guevara has refused to testify under oath in case after case when asked about allegations of misconduct. 

Illinois repealed capital punishment in 2011 because of the state’s unusually high rate of wrongful convictions. 

Sources:  California Innocence Project, Chicago Tribune, Death Penalty Information Center 

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