Federico M. Macias

Federico M. Macias was sentenced to death in 1984 and was exonerated 1993

Mr. Macias was sentenced to death for hacking an El Paso, Texas, couple to death with a machete during a home invasion.

The state's case was built on the testimony of a purported accomplice-eyewitness who testified against Macias pursuant to a plea agreement. That witness's testimony was corroborated by the testimony of a playmate of Macias's daughters who claimed to have seen Macias with blood on his hands and shirt the day of the murders.

Macias's lawyer failed to call disinterested alibi witnesses who would have placed him elsewhere at the time of the crime and to present evidence that the corroborating witnesses had not in fact been at the Macias home on the day of the murders.

After the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction, a volunteer legal team from the law firm of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom took the case, devoting more than $1 million in time and money to the case. The pro bono team prevailed in a federal habeas corpus proceeding, winning a reversal for ineffective assistance of counsel. The prosecution was then abandoned for lack of probable cause. Macias is Hispanic and the victims Caucasian.