• Matt Esnayra

Man wrongly convicted of murder in Paramount exonerated after 21 years in prison

Photo via the California Innocence Project

LA County District Attorney George Gascón announced the exoneration of Alexander Torres, a man who spent 21 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit.

Why it matters:

A Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge found Torres to be “factually innocent” on April 13 in the 2001 murder of Martin 'Casper' Guitron, a member of the Compton Varrio Segundo who was gunned down while riding his bike in Paramount.

How it happened:

Torres, now in his forties, was 20 when he was convicted in 2001, for shooting Guitron eight times with a handgun.

  • Weeks before the shooting. Torres and Guitron, who had a "prolonged, well-known adversarial history," got into a fight, in which Torres injured his hand according to the California Innocence Project.

  • Guitron, who went by the nickname Casper, was killed on Dec 31, 2000, by an individual who asked Guitron if he was “Casper” before shooting him.

  • In 2006, Torres' family received a phone call "from a friend with information about Guitron’s murder and the names of the true perpetrators."

  • The getaway driver would come forward to admit he committed the crime with another man and that Torres was not involved.

The LA County District Attorney's Conviction Integrity Unit worked with the California Innocence Project to find the culprits, including obtaining Torres' radiology report from December 19, 2000, the same date Torres told investigators he obtained treatment for his broken hand.

  • The report mentions Torres' cast would have limited his capabilities in the shooting.

  • Los Angeles District Attorney Gascón agreed to vacate and reverse the conviction.

What they're saying:

“While it is this office’s job to hold people accountable for the harm they cause, it is equally important that we critically re-examine past convictions,” District Attorney Gascón said. “We must be willing to own up to past errors, determine what went wrong and make sure we do not repeat those mistakes.”

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