Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Ryan ruled last month that Marco Contreras, 41, was “factually innocent” of an attempted murder at a Compton gas station that occurred in 1997. Prosecutors initially won a conviction against Contreras, but investigators later determined that three other men were likely responsible for the crime.
An eyewitness saw a man fire a number of shots at a man at the gas station. The witness wrote down the license number of the getaway vehicle. Police traced the vehicle to Contreras. Contreras’ brother, Miguel, told police that he owned the vehicle, and they subsequently charged Miguel with attempted murder, attempted robbery and being an accessory after the fact. At Miguel’s preliminary hearing, the witness spotted Marco in the courtroom, and identified Marco as the shooter.
At Marco’s trial, the witness said she was no longer sure that Marco was the shooter, and defense witnesses testified that Marco was home and asleep at the time of the incident. Nonetheless, the jury convicted Marco of attempted murder.
Miguel served a 16-month sentence for being an accessory after the fact. Following his release, Miguel told police that Marco did not participate in the shooting. A detective believed that another man, who was a known gang member, was the actual shooter. The man fled to Missouri when police attempted to question him.
Eventually, Miguel decided to help the police build a case against the man they believed was the actual shooter. During a secretly recorded conversation with one of the two men now accused of the crime, the man admitted that the shooting was a “hit” on the victim and was drug-related. Law students from Loyola’s Project for the Innocent assisted in reviewing the original evidence and convincing prosecutors to re-examine Contreras’ conviction.
Investigators now believe that a third defendant recruited two other men to kill the intended victim. Miguel said his role in the attempted murder was limited to “assisting” a friend. Prosecutors have formally charged the three men they now believe are responsible for the crime.
Los Angeles murder attorney
Murder and attempted murder are among the most serious criminal charges you can face in California. Your life is literally on the line in a murder trial. That’s why you need an experienced, aggressive murder lawyer working for you. Robert Helfend takes murder defense cases in Los Angeles County and throughout Southern California.
Don’t rely on an inexperienced or overworked attorney, especially when your future is at stake. Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (310) 456-3317, (818) 591-2809 or (805) 273-5611 for an immediate consultation on your Los Angeles County murder case.
Photo Credit: Anita Gould, via FreeImages.com