County of Conviction: Los Angeles
Convicted of: Second-Degree Murder
Sentence: 50 Years to Life
Years Served: 21 Years
Released: October 19, 2021
Cost of Wrongful Incarceration*: $2,228,751
*According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office 2018-19 annual costs per CA inmate
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Years Served: 21
Alexander Torres was wrongly convicted of murder in 2001 at age 20. Two decades later, the getaway driver admitted he and another man committed the crime, not Alexander Torres. As is common in wrongful conviction cases, the witnesses in the case misidentified Alex Torres.
Martin Guitron was a member of the Compton Varrio Segundo (“CVS”) gang with a gang moniker of “Casper.” Torres lived inside CVS gang territory. Guitron and Torres had a prolonged, well-known adversarial history. CVS gang members subjected Torres and his family to an ongoing intimidation campaign to drive them out of the neighborhood. Torres’s home had been shot as recently as one week prior to Guitron’s murder. Approximately two months prior to the shooting, Torres’s mother’s car was vandalized in the driveway of their home with the name “Casper” etched into the paint in three places. Several weeks prior to Guitron’s murder, Torres confronted Guitron about the vandalism to his mother’s car, and this led to a physical fight between Torres and Guitron where Torres fractured his right hand severely. Torres went to the hospital and his arm and hand were placed in a hard cast.
On December 31, 2000, Guitron was murdered while riding his bike with his friend, Enrique Valdovinos, in the City of Paramount, California. The shooter repeatedly asked Guitron if he was “Casper” prior to shooting him.
In 2006, Torres’s family received a call from a friend with information about Guitron’s murder and the names of the true perpetrators. The getaway driver eventually admitted to Torres’s family he committed the crime with another man, and he knew Torres was not involved.
CIP worked with investigators from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) to locate the true perpetrators. The driver owned a car similar to the one witnesses described used to commit the murder, and the shooter very closely resembles Torres in age, height, weight, and overall physical appearance.
CIU investigators also obtained a radiology report dated December 19, 2000, the date Torres told investigators he received treatment for his broken hand. The report documents how a “thumbhole” of the cast would have provided limited fine motor capabilities, with only the thumb and first finger positioned to touch or nearly so with limited movement. None of the witnesses described the shooter as wearing a cast.
Based on this new evidence, the Los Angeles District Attorney agreed to vacate and reverse the conviction on October 19, 2021, and Torres was released. Alexander Torres was declared factually innocent by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan on April 13, 2022.