Rafael Madrigal

County of Conviction:

Convicted of:





case details

In July 2000, Rafael Madrigal and Francisco Olivares, his co-defendant, were accused of a drive-by shooting in East Los Angeles that detectives thought was committed by the Ford Maravilla gang. Both Madrigal and Olivares were found guilty in January 2002.

Witnesses identified Madrigal and Olivares as the perpetrators, but Madrigal always maintained his innocence and said he could prove it. He had a solid alibi: Madrigal was working 35 miles away at Proactive Packaging & Display in Rancho Cucamonga when the shooting happened, and it would have been impossible for him to have left his job for that amount of time without his supervisors and other co-workers realizing he was missing because Madrigal was the only one trained to operate the laminating machine. If he wasn’t working that day, it would have seriously impacted production.

Madrigal pleaded for his lawyer to contact his co-workers and supervisors to prove he couldn’t have committed the crime. Madrigal’s lawyer never called any of the witnesses from his company to testify in his defense even though his supervisor, Robert Howards, submitted a notarized statement in an attempt to help Madrigal.

Not only did Madrigal have a solid alibi, his co-defendent Olivares was recorded on a jailhouse phone call admitting that Madrigal was not involved in the shooting and that Madrigal needed to stop looking into who committed the crime to prove his innocence. Madrigal’s attorney never presented the tape to the jury. Together, the alibi and the tape could have proven Madrigal’s innocence if only his lawyer had presented the evidence at trial.

Eric Multhaup learned about Madrigal’s wrongful conviction and asked numerous lawyers, including Justin Brooks and Jan Stiglitz to help prove Madrigal’s innocence. During the evidentiary hearing in November 2008, Madrigal’s boss, Robert Howards, told the judge that Madrigal had to have been at work because the production line would have shut down if Madrigal wasn’t there. Howards had always wanted to say this in court, but no one asked him to testify. Attorneys also presented the court with the taped admission from Olivares stating Madrigal didn’t know anything about the crime. Once the judge heard these two pieces of evidence, Madrigal’s conviction was reversed after he spent 9 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Justin Brooks, one of the lead attorneys in Madrigal’s case, said, “Rafael should never have been convicted of this crime. I am so pleased that the truth has come out. He is another innocent victim of a flawed justice system.”

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