CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, March 8, 2007

CrimProf Jan Stiglitz and the Cali Innocence Project Fights for a Woman's Freedom

StiglitzCalifornia Innocence Project attorneys, such as California Western School of Law CrimProf Jan Stiglitz, are fighting for the release of Dolores Macias, who was convicted of murder because of her children’s false testimony.

In 1994 Macias was convicted of drowning her niece, 4-year-old Lynette Orozco, in a trial where the prosecution’s case was based solely on the testimony of Macias’s children, Gilbert, Melody, and Frankie Alvarez. Attorneys and students with the California Innocence Project of California Western School of Law have spent the past four years tracking down Macias’s children who all say the testimony they gave as children was false.

“Dolores is innocent. Her children were manipulated into testifying against her by their grandmother,” said Professor Jan Stiglitz, co-director of the California Innocence Project and Macias’s attorney.  “Science has shown that the testimony of children can be extremely unreliable and they often have a great deal of trouble determining the source of their memories.  Children will take what is told to them by adults and turn it into a memory.  We believe that is exactly what happened here.”

On Jan.19, 2007, Gilbert and Melody Alvarez took the stand in Los Angeles to say that they lied during the original trial and that their mother was not involved in the drowning. Frankie Alvarez is scheduled to testify Friday, March 9 at 10 a.m.

Gilbert Alvarez admits his grandmother manipulated him into implicating his mother. "My grandma was telling me what to say when I was younger," he said in the Los Angeles courtroom of Judge Stephen Marcus.  Gilbert, now 21, was 5 at the time of the incident and 8 at trial.

Lynette Orozco drowned in a small pool on July 21, 1990 in her backyard where she lived with her mother and Macias’s sister Olivia Orozco. Macias and Orozco were both at the house at the time of the drowning. Gilbert and his siblings were sent to stay with his paternal grandmother, Sara Alvarez, who was granted custody of the children just two days after the drowning. Macias wasn’t charged with the murder until her children had been living with Sara Alvarez for more than two years.

In addition to admitting that she had no memory of her mother drowning Lynette, Melody Alvarez, 21, testified in January that she recalls fighting with her cousin Lynette in the pool at the time of the drowning.  Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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