CHICAGO — His father died while Nelson Gonzalez was in prison. Alfredo Gonzalez couldn’t go to his daughter’s wedding. And Marilyn Mulero missed out on her two children’s childhoods.
“It’s been hard — I lost my brother,” Mulero added, her voice breaking. “He was my strength.”
These are three of the Chicago families affected by murder convictions tainted by allegations of misconduct by former Chicago police Detective Reynaldo Guevara.
In a historic move Tuesday, judges overturned seven murder convictions in a single day. Many of the exonerees have spent decades in prison for slayings that took place between 1989 and 1996.
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office had filed motions in the seven cases and an eighth to be heard at the Leighton Criminal Court Building. In an unprecedented move, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced at a news conference Tuesday morning that prosecutors “can no longer stand by these convictions,” leading to the mass dismissal.
“Rebuilding the community trust in our justice system requires that when we find an injustice, we work diligently to correct it,” Foxx said. “Today marks another step in that process at the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.”
Exonerees, family members and supporters spoke with reporters after the court hearings. Emotions ran high as people cheered, cried and hugged. Some were holding signs showing the faces of Guevara accusers.
Mulero spoke as the first woman to have a conviction overturned due to allegations of misconduct by Guevara.
“I had to be a strong individual because I had two toddlers when I was incarcerated. I had to fight for them. I had to be strong for them,” Mulero said, wiping tears from her eyes.
She served 28 years in prison — including five years on death row — and was released in April 2020.