His sister held him tightly after he left Stateville Prison.
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He was greeted by friends and relatives, including his cousin, who was his alibi years ago. Instead of believing his family, police and prosecutors believed the now-disgraced former Chicago police detective Reynaldo Guevara.
“Nobody wanted to believe us but now here we are. Do you believe us now?” Cruz said.
Cruz was sentenced to 90 years for a murder conviction that was vacated Monday. Cruz is now 53. He spent more than 28 years in prison.
“This is a happy moment,” Cruz said. “This is a happy moment. There is nothing to be sad about. I’m not angry. I forgive Guevara and everybody who did what they did to me.”
“I’m so happy that justice came,” said Jose Ortiz, Cruz’s nephew. “Obviously, it didn’t come fast enough for my grandmother to see this and my grandfather and my aunts and uncles that passed away.”
“They told me my father has cancer. It was very difficult. And my brother had cancer. It was difficult. My mom passed. It was very difficult also,” Cruz said.
According to Cruz’s attorney, there are more than 50 cases connected to Guevara and so far, about half have been thrown out. Guevara retired and has not been charged.
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“He was crafty on how he got people convicted and now he’s being crafty about how he’s not going to get in trouble himself,” said Center on Wrongful Convictions’ Greg Swygert, who is Cruz’s attorney.
Eventually, Cruz hopes to get a Certification of Innocence in order to have his conviction expunged. For now, Cruz went directly to his aunt’s restaurant for jibarito, a Puerto Rican specialty. And later this week, he plans to be in court supporting inmates who are hoping their exoneration in next.
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