One Jaime Chavez has just been released after serving two years in prison on a drug dealing conviction based on false testimony. Seems that police informants planted fake drugs as evidence against dozens of people, most of whom have already had their cases thrown out.
The Dallas Morning News reports: (registration required)
The informant, Enrique Martinez Alonso, in an affidavit filed as part of Mr. Chavez's appeal, said that he lied when he testified that Mr. Chavez displayed a large plastic trash bag of methamphetamine while three other men negotiated a drug buy.
"The testimony I gave concerning Jaime Chavez's action and his knowledge of the fact that there was methamphetamine in the black plastic bag was false," the document signed by Mr. Alonso read. "I have no independent recollection of Jaime Chavez's participation in the drug transaction.
"I identified Jaime Chavez as the person who showed me the drugs because I was told that it was necessary to obtain a conviction, and I was in the process of working off my own narcotics case to avoid a 15-year prison sentence."
The reduced sentences in exchange for testimony ploy is common practice in drug prosecution around the country. Considering that many of these drug dealers are not the most savory characters, it's not suprising that some of them would finger innocent people in an effort to save their own hides. I'd like to think this case in Dallas is unusual, but I suspect most of these false testimonies go undetected.
Jaime's lucky he lost only two years of his life to the drug war. It could have been many more.