Convicted Murderer Maintains Innocence


POSTED: Thursday, January 6, 2011 - 5:45pm

UPDATED: Friday, January 7, 2011 - 10:59am

Daniel Villegas has spent more than half of his life in jail and his parents are demanding a retrial.

Daniel Villegas was sentenced to life in prison for the shooting deaths of two El Pasoans in 1993. But he says he was coerced into a confession and is innocent.

Daniel's parents say he was too young - and too scared - for the confession to be considered valid. But a jury didn't agree when they convicted him of murder. Now, his parents are exhausting all avenues to give their son a second chance.

"Two teenagers, Robert England and Armando Lazo were murdered on April 10 of 1993," said Prisciliano Villegas, Daniel's father. The victims were walking back from a party in northeast El Paso when a drive by shooter killed them.

"My son was wrongfully accused of the murders," Prisciliano said. The conviction came down in 1995. Prisciliano says Daniel was joking around with friends, saying he did it, and word reached police. Daniel, who had two misdemeanors on his record at the time, has been in jail since he was 16.

"It put a halt on our lives, and on our dreams," Prisciliano said. He says police coerced Daniel into confessing by threatening him with the electric chair.

"They told my son they were going to take him out to the desert and beat him, he would be taken to a place where there would be fat man that would rape him," Prisciliano said.

Yolando Villegas, Daniel's mother, says they weren't given a fair trial.

"We had a court-appointed lawyer, because I couldn't come up with the money in a year's time, but he didn't bring any witnesses up to the stand," Yolanda said.

She also says prosecutors only had Daniel's confession, which didn't match the witnesses' description of the scene. They filed an appeal but were denied, and also filed a motion to present new evidence, but were denied.

"You feel guilty, because I should've protected him, because he was a minor," Yolanda said in tears.

This week, commemorating Daniel's birthday, supporters held signs outside the county courthouse that read, 'Free Daniel.' Back at their home, Prisciliano and Yolanda have a room ready for their son for the day they hope he will be exonerated.

"The holidays are harder, you're trying to pretend you're happy because you don't want to ruin it for anyone else," Yolanda said.

"We had always talked about, you know, starting up a shop on our own, but it never happened," Prisciliano said emotionally.

The District Attorney has replied to the Villegas,' saying the confession was voluntary and the trial was fair. The Innocence Project of Texas is now looking into Daniel's case.

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So if The Innocence Project of Texas that is now looking into Daniel's case finds that the trial was fair, will that put this case to rest? Will the families of the teenagers killed now have peace that the right person is in jail? Perhaps some will keep believing that Daniel is innocent but not many.

The problem with the system in El Paso is that the law enforcement believe they areabove the law....then, and now! They have made it obvious wih the recent police scandals that they use whatever force they can to get what they want! I believe that not only this case, but many other cases should be reviewed in order o find the truth! If you want to see a person who is proven guilty before they even step into the court room, then take a look at the link to the DWI and Domestic Violence arrests!

Well hello....what are you doing telling your friends you did it? Sounds like it is his own fault he is in there...


give him a fair trial and bring any evidence, and lets see if it really added up, cause god knows our law enforcement have made many similar mistakes in the past

i believe there are prosecutors who are trigger happy just like there are police officers that are trigger happy they get a high when they send some inoccent young man to prison even if there was no evidence, just like my son his friends did it and they blamed him and so the prosecution believed it and they sent him to prison even the jurrors are corrupt and make mistakes by sending innocent people to prison its sad in this country and the prosecutors should go back to school!!!

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