wrongful convictions homework assignment

Read the case, Fully and deeply answer 4 questions which is in the end!

Jesus De La Cruz works as a janitor at Washington Elementary school in Midlothian, Illinois from 8:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. He has worked there for the past 3 years. De La Cruz is 39 years old unmarried and lives with his ailing mother and his 22 year old sister Bianca, a waitress, at a local truck stop. They live in a two bedroom apartment. De La Cruz is 5’6” and weighs 140 pounds. He has closely cropped black hair, clean shaven, and speaks with a very strong Spanish accent. In addition to his regular job he works on Tuesday evenings at Glance Furniture Warehouse also in Midlothian from 6pm until 11pm as a fork lift driver. He walks home after his shift on Tuesdays 3 blocks to his apartment.

On Tuesday March 16, 2009 he was walking home after his second job when he noticed a woman’s purse lying open on the sidewalk, as he approached he could see that the contents had spilled out. He picked up the purse and moved under the street light so he could examine the contents and look for money and i.d. All of the money was gone and there was no identifying information inside of the purse. As he dropped the purse back to the ground a cab driven by a Nigerian cab driver approached, slowed, and drove away. He noted that the time was 11:15 p.m.. One block from his home he passed an Asian couple that owned the local dry cleaners where he delivers his uniform for cleaning. They were out walking their dog.

The next morning the police came to his apartment and asked him if they could ask him a few questions. He did not understand all that they were telling him and while he agreed to talk, he repeated several times “No comprende”. Officer Scott Flanagan took him to the station and advised him that there had been a rape and murder the night before. A teenage boy walking home with his 16 year old date was killed and his girlfriend raped and robbed on Cicero Street. They found her purse on the street and a witness placed him in the area holding a purse. The purse was found in the area where he was spotted.

The questioning went on from 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. that evening without a lawyer or an interpreter. At 11:00 p.m. he was placed in a lineup with four other individuals. A Black male, 6’0 220 pounds aged 18, a white male, bald, 5”ll and 145 ponds age 57, a black male, 5’10” 330 pounds age 25, and a Hispanic male 5’4” 22 years old, 165 pounds with one arm missing.

At 11:45 p.m. Officer Flanagan advised him that he had been picked out of the lineup by the Asian dry cleaners. He was advised that he was being charged with rape, aggravated assault, robbery, and murder in the first degree.

Flanagan then asked him if he had anything to say. To which Jesus replied “yes” Flanagan then said tell me what happened. Jesus relayed the following story:

“ I was walkin home from my job….I see purse on ground… I check it for informatione..I do not see any boy or girl…I hurt nobody…I go to work …I go home.”

Flanagan then said “but you were in the area weren’t you?”

Jesus replied “yes”

“And you do like girls don’t you?” Flanagan asked.

“I Like girls, but I not hurt anyone” Jesus answered

Flanagan then said “I know that Mr. De La Cruz. Are you hungry? Let me get you something to eat” he then turned to his partner and told him to “go get us some, pizza, burgers, and Coke”

“Now Jesus” Flanagan continued “You said you like girls, tell me what you would do with a beautiful girl that you were having sex with?”

Jesus replied “I not hurt girls…”

Flanagan responded “I know that but tell me what you would do if you were making love to a girl….it’s ok, no one is going to know but us, just tell me how you operate”

Reluctantly Jesus described how he would proceed with a woman. After he completed his description, Flanagan said

“Suppose your girl was a little different and she wanted you to be…uh…aggressive…how would you be aggressive….and remember this is just between us”

Jesus described a more aggressive encounter, again reluctantly.

Flanagan, said, “I have been writing down what you described and I want you to tell me if what I have written is correct”

Jesus said “I no read so good, you read to me please.”

Flanagan then read the statement and Jesus agreed that it was correct.

Flanagan then asked him to sign it and he did. He was then taken back to his cell. He shared his cell with Demarcus Boyd, a drug addict and career petty criminal.

Jesus remained in jail for ten months, each time he was questioned he said “I hurt no body”

He was assigned a public defender to represent him and at each court appearance he had a different Public Defender until the week of his trial. He was assigned Frank Wentry for his trial a 2 year attorney with a huge caseload. Attorney Wentry met with Jesus twice before trial and then recommended that he accept the plea that was being offered, 10 years and 5 years probation or risk the death penalty. Wentry explained that the prosecution had his finger prints on the purse, he was identified at the scene of the crime, a written confession that was signed by Jesus, and his former cell mate DeMarcus Boyd had issued a statement and was willing to testify that Jesus had confessed both the rape and murder to him the night they spent together in a cell. He had also been picked out of a line up by a witness and the victim had identified him from a pile containing 6 photographs.

Jesus could not believe this was happening to him, he was afraid, and he did not want to die by execution. So reluctantly, he accepted the plea and plead guilty to murder and rape.

Bianca De La Cruz has come to you, an attorney specializing in the defense of innocent people and has asked you for your help in saving her brother.

Based upon the foregoing facts, please answer the following questions. Your answers should be complete, thorough and drawn from the materials we discussed in class.

  • What are the main factors present in the facts which could lead to a misidentification? Would you attack his positive identification? What would you ask for to correct this situation?
  • Evaluate the type and quality of representation provided by Mr. Wentry to Jesus. When should Jesus have received advice from counsel? What should his advice have been to Jesus? What would you do differently if you had been there to represent him from the start?
  • Jesus confessed to the crime. Please analyze the confession. In doing so indicate what is wrong with it? What is correct about it? Is it useful? Should the confession be attacked and why? How would you proceed?
  • What would you do to attempt to exonerate Jesus?
  • apa style format, double spaced.

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