Jose Vasquez

Police misconduct put Jose Vasquez in prison for a murder he did not commit

Jose D. Vasquez was convicted in Kane County Circuit Court and sentenced to 50 years in prison in 1997 for the murder of 15-year-old Corey LeSure three years earlier in Aurora, Illinois. Among other factors, the Illinois Appellate Court found, that the conviction rested on "false and misleading testimony" by Aurora Police Officer Marshall Gauer and a purported eyewitness, Larry Wilkinson, who in reality was an informant working for Gauer.

The story Wilkinson told on the witness stand was inconsistent with other witnesses' accounts of the shooting and, before identifying Vasquez, Wilkinson had identified a different person. Throughout his testimony, Wilkinson was repeatedly caught lying, but more important Gauer, known at "The Sheik" lied about is relationship with Wilkinson. For starters, Gauer testified that he had only spoken to Wilkinson over the telephone two or three times, but records from an Iowa prison where Wilkinson was incarcerated showed that Gauer had placed 384 collect calls to Gauer.

After the Illinois Appellate Court reversed his conviction, the Kane County State's Attorney's Office agreed to drop the charges against Vasquez if he would plead guilty to a lesser charge.

Although Vasquez had insisted from the beginning that he had nothing to do with the crime, he accepted the offer because to decline would have meant remaining in custody for months or perhaps years pending resolution of the case.