It began when a convicted rapist reached out to students at the California Innocence Project. It ended with him being cleared of the crimes this week.
News 12 reports that Luis Vargas spent 16 years behind bars for sexual assaults he never committed. DNA evidence has linked those assaults to the notorious “Teardrop Rapist,” the LA Times reports. That rapist is reportedly an assailant who has never been identified but has been attacking innocent victims since 1996, the AP notes.
Reports say Vargas was misidentified because of a teardrop tattoo on his face. The infamous teardrop rapist has the same sort of marking, reports say.
Vargas was sentenced to 55 years behind bars in 1999 for three separate attacks. The LA Times notes that Vargas filed appeal after appeal over the years, but was never successful.
It wasn’t until 2012 when the Innocence Project students took the time to dive more deeply into his convictions that they came up with the new evidence, reports say. Prosecutors say the eyewitnesses at the time were not sure Vargas was the man who actually attacked them.
Vargas has not been officially released yet, but his family says that day is coming very soon. ABC 7 says his lips quivered in court on Monday as he sat before a judge.
Although a judge ordered his immediate release, the LA Times says he’s been transferred to federal custody because of his immigration status.
Vargas’ 26-year-old daughter and family were there to support him. His daughter said it’s been her dream for her father to walk her down the aisle. That dream may now come true.
Read more: LA Times
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