POSTED: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 5:48pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 9:35pm
EL PASO- Daniel Villegas has dozens of people behind him who are fighting for a retrial. Now, the newest supporter is one of the jurors who convicted him.
Ben Hodge was the foreman on the jury that convicted Daniel Villegas of a double murder. He asked the other jurors one last question before they condemned a man to life in prison.
"Does anyone have anything? Do you have even a sliver of doubt and there was none... Zero," says Hodge.
Hodge saw the Daniel Villegas billboards around town. He was curious and he started paying close attention to this new hearing.
"My thought was “No that guy was guilty, he's guilty” but then you start hearing more and more and some of the stuff that's presented and your mind starts thinking wait there's more to this than what was being presented the first time," says Hodge.
Now, more than 17 years later, he joins Villegas' supporters for a retrial.
"I believe after hearing everything the past few days that there should be another opportunity for a trial to give him another chance," says Hodge.
The founder of the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth also supports a new trial.
"The only evidence against him is a confession and the confession doesn't fit the facts of the crime," says Steve Drizin.
Steve Drizin says adolescents can be coerced into confessing a crime if they are lied to about evidence, yelled at and even threatened with the death penalty. Daniel Villegas did confess but later claimed he was bullied into it.
"They use every trick in the book that they're able to use with adults, but when you use those same kind of tactics on children, they often confess to crimes they didn't commit and that's what i think happened here," says Drizin.
Drizin says he's optimistic about Daniel Villegas' case.
"It sounds to me like that the attorneys for Daniel are poking giant holes in the original case that led to his conviction," says Drizin.
Again, Villegas and the detective who allegedly forced him into confessing are both scheduled to take the stand tomorrow.