Anthony Chairez

County of Conviction:

Convicted of:





case details

Anthony Chairez was wrongfully convicted of attempted murder and mayhem based on eyewitness misidentifications. The true perpetrator was Anthony’s half brother, Enrique Barajas, who had initially been identified by witnesses as the shooter.

On February 1, 2002, Jesus Soberanes, Raul Flores, and Angela Castro were hanging out at Alberto Ibarra’s place, drinking beer. Someone knocked on the door, and Soberanes answered. The man at the door, later mistaken for Anthony Chairez, asked who owned the white car parked in the alley. Soberanes called Ibarra, the car’s owner, to the door. The man said something was wrong with the car and asked Ibarra to go downstairs with him. Sobearanes also followed them but was told to go back inside.

As Ibarra and the man approached the car, the man told Ibarra he was from a gang called Varrio Nuevo Estrada (VNE) and warned Alberto to stay out of gang business. The man threw up some made gang signs. Ibarra got angry and told the man and others waiting 25-35 feet away in the shadows to go away. Suddenly, the man shot Ibarra in the head once, the gun jammed, and the man continued to hit Ibarra in the eye with the gun.

When the police arrived, Soberanes described the shooter as a Hispanic man with a shaved head, and large eyes, in his late teens or early twenties, around 5’10” to 5’11”, and 150 pounds. Detective Victor Corella saw VNE gang members hanging around the crime scene.

At the police station, Detective Corella showed Soberanes a book with 12-16 pictures of VNE gang members on each page. Soberanes initially pointed out a picture of Enrique Barajas, saying he looked like the man who came to the door, but Soberanes later said the man looked younger and had bigger eyes than Barajas’s picture. Detective Corella knew Barajas was almost six feet tall, in his early 20’s, weighed 190-200 pounds, and had tattoos on his neck and arms. Even though Barajas matched the description from the witness, Detective Corella focused on finding someone who looked like Barajas. They singled out Anthony Chairez because he and Barajas were half brothers, and Chairez resembled Barajas.

On March 20, 2002, Detective Corella showed Soberanes another lineup that included Chairez’s photo but not Barajas’s. Detective Corella eliminated Barajas as a suspect because he was “too old” even though he fell within the age range Soberanes mentioned. Soberanes picked Chairez’s photo. In court, Soberanes identified Chairez but said he looked a bit younger than he remembered. Chairez was 15 years old when the crime occurred.

Ibarra was in a coma for over a week and hospitalized for a month. When detectives were finally able to speak to him on March 2, 2002, he also picked Chairez’s photo from the lineup Detective Corella showed him. Ibarra was never shown Barajas’s photo to possibly identify him as the man who shot him.

In 2009, Barajas confessed to shooting Ibarra, saying Chairez wasn’t involved. He didn’t come forward earlier with this information because Barajas was also charged with another murder. Chairez went to trial for shooting Ibarra before Barajas went to trial on his own case. Barajas assumed Chairez would be acquitted of the crime because he was innocent and didn’t want to jeopardize his own case. Barajas said, “I thought I had a chance if I just didn’t say anything.” Barajas also admitted he gave part of the gun to his friend, Jose Puga, to hide from police. Puga admitted Barajas gave him the gun and said he buried it to avoid being found as a murder weapon.

Attorney Audrey McGinn presented Barajas’s confession and Puga’s information in a petition for writ of habeas corpus, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was delayed for years getting into court. In the meantime, McGinn was able to negotiate Anthony Chairez’s release under new resentencing laws for juveniles. Chairez was released from prison on October 18, 2022.   The Innocence Center intends to file a motion to vacate Chairez’s conviction in 2024.

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