Daniel Stewart Case Study

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14. Tomlin, Charles • Date of Conviction: 1979 • Date of Exoneration: 1994 • Summary of the Case: On the night of 12/7/1978, Daniel Stewart, a 25-year-old drug dealer was fatally shot and robbed of nine pounds of marijuana worth $5,000 in an alley in Bakersfield, California. Stewart’s girlfriend, Leticia Mendez, 24, was sitting next to Stewart when he was shot in the face. Mendez told Bakersfield police that the gunman was a stocky black man, about 5 feet, 6 inches to 5 feet, 8 inches tall with a mustache and a medium Afro hairdo. At first she said the gunman was a hitchhiker. After she was granted immunity for the marijuana transaction, Mendez said that Stewart had brokered a meeting with the gunman through a teenager named “Charlie.” Mendez looked through high school yearbooks and identified Charles Tillman as…show more content…
One of the women was raped and the other two were assaulted, but escaped before they were raped. Based on the descriptions and the similarities of the attacks, Los Angeles police concluded that the same person committed all three attacks—the victims all were attacked at about 6 a.m. by a man with a knife as they walked to a bus stop. The police soon focused on 29-year-old Luis Vargas because he had a single teardrop tattoo under his left eye. All three victims identified Vargas in photo lineups, although with less than 100 percent certainty. Vargas was arrested on 07/21/1998. He was charged with rape, sodomy and kidnapping Teresa R. and assault with intent to rape Edith G. and Karen P. In June 1999, Vargas went to trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court. By that time, three other sexual assaults had occurred in similar fashion in the same geographic area, but the police failed to disclose those crimes to the defense. On 06/15/1999, the jury convicted Vargas of all counts. The judge then sentenced Vargas to 55 years in
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