A drive-by shooting involving rival gangs in South Los Angeles on June 25, 1993 left Edward Fuentes shot to death and two others wounded.
Two weeks later, Eric Robinson,
23, and Lavont Guillory, were charged with the murder. Police asserted that they were in a U-Haul truck from which the fatal shots were fired during the gun battle.
Los Angeles County prosecutors presented eyewitnesses who identified the two as being in the truck. Further, the prosecution presented evidence that blood found in the truck was the same blood type as Guillory’s. In June, 1994, Robinson and Guillory were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
In 2005, Guillory successfully petitioned for DNA testing that excluded him as the source of the blood and he was granted a new trial. The state dismissed the charges.
In 2006, Robinson obtained the Los Angeles Police department file on his case and it showed he had been excluded as a suspect within days of his arrest. The evidence had been concealed by Los Angeles police Sgt. Mark Arneson. Evidence also showed that months after the shooting, Arneson learned and withheld from the defense the identity of the real gunman. The gunman, Reggie Lucas, was shot to death on June 27, 1993—two days after the drive-by shooting—in retaliation for the murder of Fuentes.
In May 2007, after a hearing was granted in Robinson’s case, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges against him and he was released from prison.
Guillory and Robinson filed wrongful conviction lawsuits against the city of Los Angeles, Arneson and other police officers. The suit alleged that Arneson hid evidence that exonerated Robinson and also coerced individuals to identify Robinson as the shooter. The lawsuit said Arneson told them that “their families and their associates would be targeted by the LAPD for harassment, unlawful arrest and excessive use of force.”
Guillory received a $999,999 settlement in 2007. Robinson’s lawsuit was settled in 2008 for $1.75 million.
In 2009, Arneson was sentenced to 10 years in prison following his conviction for taking part in a wiretapping scheme operated by Hollywood private detective Anthony Pellicano.
- Maurice Possley