Exoneration After 20 Years – DA Makes Two New Shooting Convictions
Photo: Marco Contreras being freed, March 28, 2017 (KTLA)
COMPTON – When a 1996 shooting of an alleged drug-dealing rival in Compton sent Marco Contreras away for 20 years, novel efforts secured his eventual release from prison.
“The District Attorney’s Habeas Corpus Litigation Team, known as HABLIT, began looking into Contreras’ claims of innocence due to eyewitness misidentification in 2014 at the request of the Loyola Project for the Innocent,” said the LA DA. “The investigation was reassigned to deputy district attorneys in the CRU, after the specialized unit was established in 2015.”
“The work of my Conviction Review Unit (CRU) does not stop when a wrongfully convicted person is freed from prison,” District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. “We continue to seek justice on behalf of victims by re-investigating the crime and prosecuting the real criminals who, in this case, may have thought they got away with attempted murder.”
Originally, Contreras’ brother Miguel was charged. The witness in the preliminary hearing pointed to Marco and ID’ed him as the shooter – leading to the attempted murder charge and Marco’s 1997 conviction with a seven years-to-life state prison sentence.
Next, Miguel pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact, and was handed a 16-month state prison sentence. After new evidence led to the innocence and 2017 exoneration of wrongfully-convicted Marco Contreras, CRU Investigators uncovered evidence leading to the arrests of Antonio Salgado and Antonio Garcia.
“Deputy district attorneys in the office’s Hardcore Gang Division filed criminal charges against two men who later were convicted for that same crime,” said Lacey. “Contreras’ conviction review uncovered key evidence that led to their arrests in the 1996 shooting of an alleged drug-dealing rival in Compton.”
Salgado (dob 5/19/75) was sentenced in last month to 60 years to life in state prison and Garcia (dob 11/3/55) was sentenced to 25 years to life when a Compton jury found them guilty of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Currently, there are 61 pending claims in various stages of the review process.
Requests to have a conviction reviewed must be submitted in writing to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Conviction Review Unit at 211 W. Temple Street, Room 1255, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Claims also may be emailed to: CRU@da.lacounty.gov
Case TA142806 was investigated by the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.