Robbery Conviction is Overturned

Table of Contents errol_cook,_esq2An article published in the Daily Breeze printed January 1, 2002, details the overturning of a convicted Robber. After serving  2 years, George Lopez was released from prison. All charges were dismissed. “Lopez was convicted after witnesses identified him as the gunman in the robbery at Commercial Credit Corp. But jurors were never told that two witnesses did not believe believe Lopez was the gunman” (Daily Breeze). “Dismissal: Man in prison two years is freed after a prosecutor says another man held up a loan office. By Chelsea J. Carter The Associated Press

Steinhagen SANTA ANA – A judge overturned the conviction of a man who spent two years in prison for an armed robbery that a prosecutor now says was committed by another person.

Judge Daniel Didier’s ruling Friday came after the Orange County District Attorney’s Office filed court documents asking all charges be dismissed against George Lopez.

Lopez, 19, of Orange was convicted in Ma 1999 of robbing an Anaheim loan office.

“After a lengthy investigation, newly discovered evidence cast enough doubt on whether Lopez was the gunman. The interests of justice are best served by vacating the conviction,” said Deputy District Attorney Brian Gurwitz.

He would not say what the investigation revealed. But the Los Angeles Times reported in July that two robbery victims said Lopez was not the gunman and another man confessed to the crime.

“I had faith,” Lopez said shortly after hearing the judge had overturned his conviction.

Lopez was convicted after witnesses identified him as the gunman in the robbery at Commercial Credit Corp. But jurors were never told that two witnesses did not believe Lopez was the gunman.

Meanwhile, the same week Lopez was convicted, another man pleaded guilty to committing three nearly identical robberies.

That man, Johnny SantaCruz, later told the newspaper he committed the Anaheim robbery.

Gurwitz would not comment on what SantaCruz said, if anything, to investigators.

Lopez was freed in September on his own recognizance while a judge decided whether to grant a new trail in light of the newpaper’s report on the likelihood Lopez was wrongly convicted.

Lopez’s attorney, James Crawford, said the justice system broke down for his client.

“Everybody from the defense to the prosecution, nobody did what they were supposed to do, before, during or after the trial,” he said.

Lopez, the father of two children, said he was considering filing a wrongful conviction lawsuit” (Daily Breeze, Robbery conviction is overturned, 1/12/2002).

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