Jose Montanez & Armando Serrano Free: Two Men Wrongfully Convicted Of 1993 Murder To Go Free

July 20, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

Jose Montanez and Armando Serrano are now free after spending more than 23 years behind bars. Montanez and Armando Serrano were wrongly imprisoned in 1993 for the killing of Rodrigo Vargas after Detective Reynaldo Guevara forced a homeless man to lie and to place the pair at the murder scene.

Jose Montanez Armando Serrano

Jose Montanez and Armando Serrano are finally out of prison. Montanez and Armando spent more than 23 years behind bars in the Danville Correctional Center and the Dixon Correction Center after being found guilty for the death of Rodrigo Vargas.

In 1993, the men were wrongly convicted to 55 years in prison based on false testimony. The duo had always claimed their innocence, and there was no evidence linking them to the crime.

The men told the police and their lawyers on countless occasions that Det. Reynaldo Guevara framed them Mr. Guevara is currently being investigated for several wrongful convictions.

According to Montanez and Serrano’s lawyers, Guevara provided a heroin addict a false story implicating the two men, which was used in court for the conviction.

Talking to Medill Innocence Project in 2004, the drug addict confessed that he gave a false testimony after he was threatened, intimidated, and abused by Guevara.

The two Chicago men were released on Wednesday after the 1993 murder charges were dropped due to misconduct allegations. Last month, a court found there were “profoundly alarming acts of misconduct led to the men’s convictions in the death of Rodrigo Vargas.”

Many relatives of Mr. Montanez and Mr. Serrano, and supporters, who have been waiting for this day stood outside of the courtroom to cheer and cry. Armando Serrano Jr., 23, said he was five months old when his father was locked up, and added:

“My earliest memories of my father are of seeing him in the visitor room at the maximum-security prison in Pontiac. My legs are shaking right now.”

Through her tears, Montanez’s mother, Carmen Montanez, explained:

“I’m so happy I don’t know what to say. I was praying to God every day that this day would come. Thank God it’s finally over with and I can have my son home finally and I can enjoy a Christmas a Thanksgiving and a birthday for him that we’ve missed for 23 years.”

Guevara has refused to testify, invoking the Fifth Amendment on grounds that truthful answers may implicate him for subsequent criminal charges. In 2009, Juan Johnson, who was also wrongfully convicted of murder, was awarded $21 million.

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