A California man who spent 20 years in prison for murder is scheduled to be released soon, after witnesses in the case admitted that they had been influenced to identify him as the criminal.
Francisco Carrillo, who is now 37 years old, was convicted in 1992 for the murder of Donald Sarpy in Lynnwood. Sarpy's son and five other friends were nearby, but were not injured in the shooting. Right from the outset, their statements were conflicting. A couple of the victim's friends told police that they had seen someone in a passing car screaming Hispanic gang slogans before shooting Sarpy. They described the shooter as a male Hispanic teenager. However, there was little consensus among the witnesses about what the car looked like or the number of passengers in the car. Some of them said there were three males in the car, while others said they were two. Carillo became a suspect because of a mix-up in names. Officers had identified him as the perpetrator in another shooting.
In the lineup, Carillo was identified by one of the witnesses, who then went on to tell his friends that he had identified the person in position number one, describing Carrillo's appearance to his friends. Not so surprisingly to a California criminal defense attorney, when it was the turn of the other friends to identify the shooter from the lineup, they all pointed to Carrillo.
Carrillo was tried twice. The first time ended in a mistrial, and during the second trial in 1992, one of the witnesses recanted his identification, but the other five witnesses provided strong testimony.
Now, all six witnesses have recanted their testimony, saying that they didn't see anything clearly. Further, two other men have confessed to the shooting.