Kansas resolves 2 mistaken-conviction lawsuits

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Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 4:14 PM CST
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TOPEKA (KWCH) – The Kansas Attorney General’s Office announced Tuesday that it has resolved two additional lawsuits filed under the state’s mistaken-conviction statute.

The first case involves a lawsuit filed by Merardo J. Garza, Jr. On January 10, 2008, Garza was convicted of alternative counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and rape in Sedgwick County District Court. He was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum sentence of 25 years. His conviction was vacated on November 6, 2020.

On January 20, 2022, the court determined that Garza did not commit the crime, he wasn’t an accessory or accomplice and he didn’t commit perjury, fabricate evidence or cause, or bring about his conviction through his own conduct. Garza served 13 years, five months, and 27 days in prison or jail.

Under the mistaken-conviction statute, Garza was granted a Certificate of Innocence, his conviction and arrest were ordered expunged and he was granted a total compensation of $887,455.22.

The second case involved Francis R. Everett, 64, who was convicted in Smith County on charges of manufacturing methamphetamines in November 2007.

Shawnee County District Court Judge Teresa Watson issued a ruling earlier last week stating that Everett was released when his conviction was reversed on appeal because the trial court erred in admitting evidence of a prior conviction, not because of actual innocence. He was not retried on the charges but is currently in prison on other charges.

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