Vicente Benavides Freed After 25 Years on California’s Death Row
04.19.18 By Innocence Staff
UPDATE: Vicente Benavides was released from prison on April 19, 2018.
Vicente Benavides, 68, spent nearly 25 years on California’s death row for the 1991 sexual assault and murder of 21-month-old Consuelo Verdugo before the California Supreme Court overturned his conviction on March 12, 2018. Benavides is represented by Cristina Borde of the Habeas Corpus Resource Center.
Related: Report: Death Penalty Sees Continued Decline in 2017
On Tuesday, the Kern County District Attorney’s office announced it would be dropping all charges against Benavides: “Our professional and ethical standards require us to decline to re-try the case when, upon an objective review of the facts, there is insufficient evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Benavides’ conviction was based on false medical testimony introduced at trial. In its decision, the court concluded that Verdugo had never been sexually assaulted and may actually have died from being hit by a car.
At trial, a forensic pathologist testified that Verdugo had died as a result of anal injuries from being sodomized. Numerous medical doctors testified that her injuries were the result of sexual assault.
Years later, many doctors who testified to the cause of Verdugo’s injuries recanted their testimony. They stated they had not reviewed Verdugo’s full medical record, which did not reveal any evidence of sexual assault when she was first hospitalized. During post-conviction proceedings, Benavides’ lawyers presented evidence from one of the country’s leading experts on child abuse who further discredited the medical testimony presented at trial.
In its decision, the court also concluded that the injuries to Verdugo’s genitalia and anus that doctors at trial had cited were evidence of sexual assault were actually the result of medical treatment Verdugo received after she arrived at the hospital.
Until a court order to release Benavides is submitted, he will remain on death row at San Quentin prison. Once the order is submitted, Benavides could be released quickly—within hours or days.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Benavides will be the fourth person exonerated from California’s death row since 1980. He will be the 162nd person exonerated from the United States’ death row since 1973.
Update: Vicente Benavides was freed on April 19 thanks to the tremendous work of Cristina Borde and her team at Habeas Corpus Resource Center! https://t.co/hZczauTapj pic.twitter.com/3FqMBF3LpJ
— Innocence Project (@innocence) April 24, 2018
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April 25, 2018 at 1:17 am
If he is in need of anything until he gets settled or gets his payment from the government.
I’m willing to donate What ever is needed . Just contact me at [email protected]
Merrill Jenkins April 25, 2018 at 12:26 pm
The JURY has the right to ASK questions and to investigate as well. They are responsible but do not know it because the JUDGES and the LAWYERS at court keep information from them as well. They Are TOLD what to think and how to think. This is a FARCE. A JURY needs to be populated with at least some JURISTS not bodies of non thinking toadies of the Court. I am not blaming the folks on the JURY, they are the ones being lied to and manipulated more than anyone. A person on the Jury should be Familiar with the Law and at least have read the Constitution or the USA as well as his state. The dictionary defines a juror as A group of people selected to apply the law, as stated by the judge, to the facts of a case and render a decision, called the verdict. .
The fact is a Juror should READ the medical report themselves and ask for more information even the prosecutor or defense attorney have not provided it.
Chief Justice John Jay said: “It is
presumed, that juries are the
best judges of facts; it is,
on the other hand, presumed t
hat courts are the best
judges of law. But still both objects are within your
power of decision.” (emphasis added)
“…you have a
right to take it upon yourselves to judge of both,
and to determine the law as well as the fact in
To be forced to to apply the law, as stated by the judges, assumes that you have a Judges that is not corrupt, bias, informed himself and has no prejudice or agendas their selves, and that is simply assuming FACTS not in evidence