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Marcos Morales

Other Hidalgo County Exonerations
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On April 14, 2016, 33-year-old Marcos Morales was arrested for driving while intoxicated in Hidalgo County, Texas.

At the time, he was free on bond awaiting trial on charges that he committed three burglaries—one in October 2015 and two in March 2016.

Morales had numerous prior convictions for several crimes, including armed robbery, burglary, theft, and driving while intoxicated. On April 25, 2016, he pled guilty in Hidalgo County Criminal District Court to the three burglary charges and to the driving while intoxicated charge. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

Several weeks later, the prosecution discovered another unsolved burglary committed on September 22, 2014. Morales was charged with that burglary as well and pled guilty to the charge on June 23, 2016. He was sentenced to four years in prison to be served concurrently with the four years imposed on the other cases.

On June 6, 2018, Morales, acting without a lawyer, filed a state law petition for a writ of habeas corpus seeking to vacate his guilty plea to the September 22, 2014 burglary. The petition claimed that he was in jail on the date of that crime.

The Hidalgo County District Attorney’s office investigated and determined that on September 2, 2014—21 days prior to the burglary—Morales pled guilty to a theft charge and was sentenced to nine months in jail.

Records showed that after Morales pled guilty, he remained in the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center until September 17, 2014. He was then transferred to the Dominguez State Jail in San Antonio, Texas, where he remained until he was released on March 20, 2015.

In August 2018, the prosecution filed a response to the habeas petition agreeing that the burglary conviction should be vacated. The trial judge agreed and recommended that the conviction be vacated.

On September 19, 2018, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the writ and vacated the conviction. The court held that Morales had received an inadequate legal defense because his lawyer failed to investigate and discover that Morales was in jail on the day of the crime.

In October 2018, the prosecution moved to dismiss the case. On November 1, 2018, the motion was granted and the charge was dismissed.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 11/6/2018
State:Texas
County:Hidalgo
Most Serious Crime:Burglary/Unlawful Entry
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2014
Convicted:2016
Exonerated:2018
Sentence:4 years
Race:Hispanic
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:31
Contributing Factors:Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No