Daniel Villegas, the Hispanic man who was imprisoned after confessing to a brutal crime that he didn’t commit, will be the feature of tonight’s Dateline NBC. Last Friday, Inquisitr brought you Dateline’s interviews with Bill Cosby‘s sexual assault accusers. In tonight’s Dateline NBC episode, entitled “The Confession,” viewers will learn about the case of Daniel Villegas and victims Armando Lazo and Robert England. Lazo and England died in a fatal shooting in Texas in the 1990s. Villegas, who confessed to killing them, was arrested and found guilty of murder. He did 20 years in prison before he was exonerated this year.
The murder made headlines in 1993. That’s when police received a call that two teen boys had been shot in a drive by shooting. Upon arriving at the scene, investigators found the bodies of 16-year old Armando Lazo, aka Mando, and Robert England, whose name is also spelled as Englund. During the police investigation, law enforcement officials zeroed in on Daniel Villegas, then bullied him into making a confession. Villegas was only 16 years old at the time, and neither his parents, nor his lawyer, were present during the police interrogation. People who knew Daniel were positive that he had not committed this crime and nothing linked him to the case. But, the police felt pressured to get the case solved and believed that Daniel Villegas was their man.
False confession and wrongful conviction cases are the most difficult cases to try in court because most people don’t believe that an innocent person would admit to committing a murder. However, there are countless numbers of innocent people who have confessed to crimes. Some confess to crimes they didn’t commit because they want to become part of a famous case. Others cite intimidation and fear of police as a factor for confessing. As in the case of Daniel Villegas, police officers used physical force to get him to say that he killed the teens. Villegas stated that they also cornered him and yelled in his face at different times during the interrogation.
Daniel Villegas’ story is similar to one from the late 1980’s, when another teen confessed to the murder of his classmate. In that case, a teenage girl was attending a spend the night party at the boy’s home but was found murdered in the backyard the next day. The shocked community members wanted police to find the killer, which prompted them to put pressure on the teen to confess. When his parents finally arrived at the police station, they were held in another room for hours without being able to talk to their son. The boy’s case was finally overturned years later. The victim’s case has never been solved.
It took two decades for Daniel Villegas to finally get justice thanks to a local man named John Mimbela, a Latino businessman who fought for Villegas after seeing his photo from 1993. According to Mimbela, once he took a look at the photo of Daniel Villegas, he knew that he was an innocent man.
Mimbella’s feelings about the case mimics the feelings of many others who don’t quite trust the police. This is seen in some of the comments on Dateline‘s Facebook page about this miscarriage of justice.
“I know a lot of teens and adults who were railroaded into making false confessions. So who the hell is policing the police? This is crazy”
“I bet the majority are minorities.”
“That’s BEACAUSE cops. Will do anything to Get. A confession. Even if. It’s. False. Meanwhile The. Real killers. Are at. Large.”
“Another Innocent. Person!!!”
Many are calling for legislation to make it illegal for police to speak with a minor without the parents being present. They also believe that police should not be able to lie to criminals during the police investigation in order to get a confession. To see more information on how Daniel Villegas finally obtained his freedom, watch Dateline NBC tonight at 9/8 p.m. central.
[Photo by Wake Up 915/Facebook]