Judge overturns conviction of 2 brothers framed for murder by former Chicago police detective

ByStephanie Wade via WLS logo
Friday, July 15, 2022
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A judge has overturned the convictions of two brothers who said they were framed in a 1997 murder by former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- After 25 years behind bars for a crime they did not commit, two brothers are relieved to be free, but feel righteously angry - as they put it - for the many years ripped away from them.

There were cheers of celebration for the first time in 25 years as Juan and Rosendo Hernandez can now embrace their family once again.

Dozens of family and friends piled into cars and waited hours in the rain to give the brothers the warmest welcome home.

"It's surreal a little bit, but it's exciting," Rosendo said. "We expected this day to come for a long time."

RELATED: Men fighting for freedom claim CPD detective coerced confessions

The Hernandez brothers allege that they were framed in a 1997 murder by former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara, at the request of another Chicago officer.

Rosendo said he was at a bowling alley at the time of the shooting, and Juan said he was at a pizza parlor helping prepare for a quinceañera.

However, Det. Guevara is accused of tweaking those alibis to make the two less credible.

"Guevara was just trying to close cases for the most part. But in our case, specifically, he was setting us up," Rosendo said. "You get mad at first, you get angry, frustrated, but eventually the truth has to come out eventually. That's the way we looked at it."

RELATED: Man wrongfully accused of murder free after 28 years in prison, case linked to retired CPD detective

"It's emotional for me, but look at this community, look at this family, look at these people who suffered. This is a dawn of a new era," said attorney Joshua Tepfer.

A Cook County judge threw out the murder convictions Thursday, marking the third time in less than a week that a Guevara-related case was thrown out.

Dozens of others have accused the now-retired officer of manipulating witnesses, fabricating evidence and framing suspects over his career.

While happy today, it doesn't make up for lost time, the brothers said.

Juan was forced to leave his son when he was just months old.

"Every birthday, every graduation, high school graduation, college graduation. Everything," said Juan's son, Donnovan Hernandez.

RELATED: Jury rules against former CPD detective Guevara, awards $17M to victim

"I'm not going to live bitter. I'm not going to live angry. That's the reason we made it this long, because we don't hold no grudges," Juan said." I'm not angry, but it's a righteous anger. There's a righteous anger but how I get back at that righteous anger is by continuing to fight."

The Cook County State's Attorney's Office released a statement that said in part:

"We agree with the Judge's decision and noted on the record that we will not pursue a new trial. The Cook County State's Attorney Office is committed to the work of justice and our review of these cases remains a top priority of this office."

"We just want justice. It's plain and simple. We want justice for all the men who haven't gotten justice yet," Juan said. "And until that happens, we're not going to stop making noise."

RELATED: 2 men wrongly convicted suing city of Chicago, say confessions were forced