Franky Carrillo spent two decades in prison for a murder he did not commit.
In 1992, Francisco “Franky” Carrillo Jr., then only 16 years old, was convicted of a drive-by shooting. As there was no DNA or physical evidence, Franky’s conviction was based solely on witness testimony. All six witnesses eventually recanted, saying that they were unable to see the shooter and had been pressured by police to identify Franky. Two other men have since confessed to the shooting and said that Franky was not involved.
While in prison, Franky began writing letters to lawyers, media outlets, and innocence organizations, but it wasn’t until Ellen Eggers, a public defender and former DPF Board Member who specializes in death penalty cases, met with him that his luck began to change.
Ellen Eggers took on Franky’s case pro-bono and in March 2011, the Los Angeles County Superior Court reversed his conviction for murder and ordered his release.
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.
Franky is now a student at Loyola Marymount University. He works as a Justice Advocate with Death Penalty Focus to tell his story and educate the public about the real danger of incarcerating and even executing the innocent.