Panel 1

Daniel Villegas is free!

Daniel Villegas is now a free man after spending almost 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit! In December 2013 the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals set aside his conviction after concluding he received ineffective assistance of counsel during the trial that sent him to prison.

He had Christmas and birthday presents waiting on him, and Fred Loya graciously kept his renowned light display up just for him. The celebrations may have been a bit late, but it’s a very merry Christmas and happy birthday for Daniel!

Panel 2

New trial ordered for Tim Howard!

Wonderful news coming out of Little River County, AR. Tim has been granted a new trial! We are ecstatic and Tim is so grateful to those who are helping work on his case directly and to those who continue to support him by raising awareness and sending positive thoughts and prayers.

We’ll keep you informed as things progress. Read more for a brief summary from our friend Mara Leveritt.

Panel 3

Daniel Risher has spent over twenty-one years in Arkansas prisons for a crime he did not commit

Testing that is currently ongoing may provide conclusive evidence that the biological evidence used to convict Daniel was inconclusive at best.

In 2012, Proclaim Justice became aware of Daniel’s case and, after researching it, became convinced of his innocence. We are currently working with Daniel and his defense team to develop the most effective way to bring awareness to his case and ultimately to win his freedom. Please check back in for updates concerning his case, and, when appropriate, calls to action.

Panel 4

Jason Baldwin of the West Memphis 3 and John Hardin announce launch of Proclaim Justice

(Little Rock, AR-December 13, 2012) On Thursday, December 13, 2012 Jason Baldwin and John Hardin announced the launch of Proclaim Justice, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for those who are currently incarcerated for crimes they did not commit.

Jason, one of the men known as the West Memphis 3 (WM3), spent eighteen years in prison for a crime he did not commit. John, who has years of experience in political and public affairs communications, played an important role in bringing media and public attention to the WM3 case.

Daniel Villegas’ Quest for Justice

Editor’s note: With some minor revisions, the following excerpt is taken from Daniel’s support site created and maintained by Proclaim Justice board member John Mimbela. John has been a dogged activist for Daniel, spending over $200,000 of his own money on the case. Visit the site for videos, media coverage, facts of the case, etc.  

April 1993, in El Paso, Texas, Daniel Villegas was only 16 years when he was arrested and later convicted of a double murder he did not commit. Without the presence of his parents or an attorney, he was interrogated for hours late into the night. He was threatened with the death penalty and told he would be taken to the county jail to get raped if he did not confess, which he eventually did. Daniel went to trial in 1995 with a court appointed attorney, John Gates, who was given 60 days to prepare for the trial. Mr. Gates was assigned a private investigator 6 days before Daniel’s trial. Unprepared, he went to trial, called one witness to the stand and failed to call 18 available defense witnesses, including Daniel’s alibis. Without any physical evidence or eye witnesses tying Daniel to this crime, the prosecution relied solely on Daniel’s confession, which was full of impossible and false facts. Daniel has always maintained that his confession was false and coerced by Detective Al Marquez, a harsh and relentless interrogator. Nevertheless, after a 3 day trial, Daniel was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Our judicial system that is supposed to guarantee us the right to a fair trial failed Daniel. He has now been in prison for 20 years. After years of investigating this case, we believe in Daniel’s innocence. With the help of private investigator Freddie Bonilla, with 40 years in law enforcement, we have gathered overwhelming facts that were never presented in Daniel’s murder trial which prove his innocence. As a homicide detective of 20 years, Mr. Bonilla stated, “There is no way Daniel could have committed this crime.” After researching Daniel’s case, the Northwestern Law Center on Wrongful Conviction of Youth from Chicago, Illinois and Dr. Richard Leo, a world famous expert on false confessions from San Francisco, also believe in Daniel’s innocence. Moreover, Daniel recently passed a polygraph test with flying colors. Even Attorney John Gates recently concluded that he was indeed ‘ineffective’ in representing Daniel. He admits missing many key factors that could have made a difference in the outcome of Daniel’s trial. After attending and hearing the overwhelming evidence in Daniel’s evidentiary hearings that was never presented in Daniel’s first trials, Ben Hodge, the foreman of the jury that convicted Daniel, agrees Daniel is innocent and deserves a new trial.

After a 2012 hearing, Judge Sam Medrano, Jr. recommended Daniel receive a new trial. We are waiting on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) to rule on the judge’s recommendation. We call on the CCA to not only order a new trial for Daniel, but to do it posthaste. Each day they wait is another day an innocent man spends behind bars.