In March 2011, the Los Angeles County Superior Court reversed
Francisco (Franky) Carrillo Jr.’s 1992 conviction for murder, and
ordered his release after two decades behind bars.
At 16, Franky was wrongfully convicted of a 1991 murder based
solely on identification testimony. All six eventually
admitted that they were unable to see the shooter, and were influenced
to make their identifications of Franky by the police and by each other.
Two other men have since confessed to the shooting and said that Franky
was not involved.
Though innocence issues were raised early in his trial, and again
during Franky’s failed appeals, it required the dedication and hard work
of many lawyers and supporters, led by State Public Defender and erstwhile Death
Penalty Focus Board member Ellen Eggers, to finally win his release.
Franky now works as a Justice Advocate with DPF to tell his story
and educate the public about the real danger of incarcerating and even
executing the innocent.
Nowhere does the risk of wrongful conviction present a greater
danger than in death penalty cases. Eyewitness misidentification is
responsible for close to 50 innocent men and women being sentenced to
death in the US, and has played a role in many more wrongful
convictions. Franky’s case shows not only how easily mistakes can be
made in California and elsewhere, but also how very difficult it is to
right these terrible wrongs.
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