Francisco Vicente, a man whose testimony helped prosecutors convict five men for murder in Chicago, told BuzzFeed News that all of his testimony was a lie—and that prosecutors knew it. Vincente claims that after he was arrested in 1993 for stealing jewelry, officers Reynaldo Guevara and Ernest Halvorsen tried to get him to pin the murder of a 15-year-old on 17-year-old Robert Bouto—something, and someone, he knew nothing about. When he refused, he claimed, they viciously beat him until he relented.
Guevara was accused of beating more than 50 people during his time on the force. But Vicente claims that prosecutors were in on it, too—buying his story that Bouto screamed his confession to him in a crowded cellblock, while he was imprisoned about 30 feet away. Four more times, he claimed, prosecutors uncritically accepted Vincente’s claims—made, he said, under coercion—that men willingly confessed their crimes to him unprompted, even when his testimony contradicted the available evidence. “Prosecutors are the ones we trust to prevent injustice,” an attorney for two of the men convicted by Vincente’s testimony told BuzzFeed, “and here Vicente explains how they perverted the process and led to the convictions of innocent men.”