In 1995, then-18-year-old Gerardo Cabanillas was picked up by Los Angeles police because he matched the description of a suspect in a robbery and rape. He says detectives told him if he confessed he would be released on probation, but instead, he was tried. Despite the lack of any physical evidence tying him to the crime, he was convicted and effectively sentenced to life in prison.
Cabanillas has always maintained his innocence and in 2019, his lawyers with the California Innocence Project filed to have DNA evidence from the crime tested. None of the DNA evidence matched Cabanillas. The new evidence got him conditionally released earlier this year and then this week an LA County Superior Court judge vacated his conviction and declared him innocent of all charges.
Using the newly uncovered DNA evidence, the LA County District Attorney’s office identified another suspect, who matched the description and is already in custody for an unrelated crime. At a news conference on Tuesday, District Attorney George Gascón apologized to Cabanillas, saying, “To you and your family, I offer our deepest apologies for the horrible injustice that was caused.”