Raymundo Chagolla

County of Conviction:

Convicted of:





case details

Raymundo Chagolla was wrongfully convicted in part because the government did not share information pointing to his innocence. He continues to fight for his freedom.


For the legal system to be fair, both the side accusing someone (prosecution) and the side defending them (defense) have to do their job right. That means the prosecution has to share all the important information with the defense, and the defense has to carefully look into things before going to trial. When this doesn’t happen, it can lead to devastating outcomes. That’s exactly what happened to Raymundo Chagolla.

The Shooting

On January 10, 2000, Raymundo Chagolla, who was 18 years old at the time, was at home recovering from the flu and watching The Simpsons. Around 8:40 p.m. at the Stardust Motel in Riverside, California, a tragic incident occurred. Billy Medlin, a resident of the hotel, was helping someone at the motel’s soda machine when a man approached them. The man yelled at Medlin, referred to him as “white boy homie,” and shot and killed him. The shooter then fled towards the back alley, firing his gun at the building before disappearing from view.

Despite the prosecution being unable to establish a clear motive for the shooting, Raymundo was charged and convicted based on contaminated eyewitness identifications and unrecorded hearsay statements. Raymundo consistently maintained that he was at home during the shooting and cooperated with the police throughout the investigation.

The Problematic Trial

During the trial, it was not disclosed to the defense that Medlin had witnessed a gang-related kidnapping, murder, and attempted murder in a nearby county. Medlin, who was related to a key figure in the San Bernardino case, was murdered just days before that preliminary hearing. The detectives handling both cases failed to share this crucial information with Raymundo’s defense. 

Furthermore, Raymundo’s defense attorney did not investigate the problematic eyewitness statements or explore whether someone else might have had a motive to harm Medlin. The defense failed to fully investigate Raymundo’s innocence despite many witnesses’ descriptions of the shooter as having different characteristics than Chagolla.

Post-Conviction Efforts

In October 2019, Raquel Barilla filed a habeas petition in the Riverside Superior Court. The petition raised concerns about the withholding of information (Brady Claim) and the inadequate legal representation provided to Raymundo. After the Riverside Superior Court issued an order to show cause, they ultimately denied the habeas petition without holding an evidentiary hearing. Subsequent habeas petitions to the California Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court were also unsuccessful, resulting in the denial of the petition. Currently, the case is awaiting resolution in front of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Raymundo is hoping the federal court will bring some relief.

In June 2024, Raymundo will have a chance for freedom when the California Board of Parole Hearings holds his first parole suitability hearing. The Innocence Center will represent him at this hearing as well.

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