CHICAGO — In a rare move, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has filed motions to clear eight more homicide convictions tied to a notorious former Chicago police detective.
Observers say the clearing of so many murder cases in a single day is unprecedented in Chicago, if not nationally. Foxx has been reviewing convictions where misconduct by Reynaldo Guevara was alleged. The motions to dismiss the eight cases was a result of that probe.
“He’s a stain on our criminal justice system,” Foxx says.
Foxx granted WGN Investigates an exclusive interview, in advance of today’s announcement.
“What we’re doing today is ensuring the cases we have before us, that we’ve spent the last three years reviewing, are resolved,” she says.
As a detective based out of the Chicago Police Department’s Area 5 Headquarters, Guevara earned a reputation in the 1980s and 1990s for solving cases no other officer could.
But that investigative work has repeatedly been called into question. In court filings, Guevara has been accused of coercing confessions and manipulating witnesses and evidence.
More than two dozen of his murder cases have now been overturned.
That doesn’t include the eight cases to be cleared today, or another three Foxx said could follow in the coming weeks.
“We didn’t make the decision to do this lightly at all,” Foxx says. “I certainly recognize the frustration people had with the length of time it was taking us to review these cases. But justice requires us to be as meticulous and as thorough and as thoughtful as we can be.”
Guevara has not been charged with a crime. He has refused to testify in numerous legal cases, repeatedly invoking his 5th Amendment right.
Foxx says her office recently offered him immunity if he came to court and testified in a murder case that was under review. But he “chose to remain silent,” she says.
Guevara retired in 2005. WGN investigates found him earlier this year, living out of state and collecting two taxpayer funded pensions from the city.
He has repeatedly refused requests for an interview.
Three of the eight men to be cleared of murder charges were in prison, and are to be released if, as expected, the judges approve Foxx’s motions.
“It’s sad and exhilarating at the same time,” says attorney Josh Tepfer, who represents three of the eight men. “It’s an enormous step that shows how corrupt the city and Reynaldo Guevara really are.”
Foxx says she expects more convictions could come up for review.
Her office will evaluate each one “on a case-by-case basis to determine whether or not it’s in the interest of justice served,” she says.
The overturned convictions are just part of the story. Numerous people have sued the city and Guevara after their convictions were overturned. WGN Investigates has found the city has paid more than $75 million to settle, investigate and defend legal claims involving Guevara.
It’s expected those payouts to climb, at the taxpayer’s expense, as more cases wind through the court.