Juan Rivera

juanriveraJuan Rivera was convicted of the 1992 murder and sexual assault of eleven-year-old Holly Staker in Waukegan. No physical evidence ever linked Rivera to the crime. The prosecution's case was based on statements Rivera made to the police in the middle of the night after four days of intensive interrogation and at a time when medical personnel at the jail determined that he was in a psychotic state. According to law enforcement, Rivera got 80% of the facts wrong in his first inculpatory statement. His second statement, obtained a few hours later, allegedly contained some details of the crime. These details, however, were all known to the police, and the defense argued at trial that the police suggested these details to Rivera. The interrogation was not recorded.

"More than a year ago, the Center on Wrongful Convictions obtained DNA test results on minute quantities of sperm recovered from the victim's vagina. The testing, which was done by renowned forensic geneticist Edward T. Blake, of Forensic Science Associates, and confirmed by experts retained by the prosecution, produced a complete male profile that excluded Rivera as the source of the sperm.

"Jane Raley, Center staff counsel who represented Rivera, said that the DNA results are conclusive proof of innocence and that the Lake County authorities should now drop the charges and focus on finding the actual killer."

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