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Jesus Vela

Other Gun Possession Exonerations
On November 10, 2014, 21-year-old Jesus Vela was arrested in Midland County, Texas and charged with illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after police confiscated what they believed was a .38 caliber Ruger pistol.

On January 15, 2015, Vela pled guilty in Midland County Criminal District Court and was sentenced to three years in prison.

In August 2015, Midland police officer Kent Spencer examined the weapon in preparation for its destruction and discovered that the pistol was a pellet gun that was powered by compressed air. Such a weapon was not considered a firearm under the Texas state law.

Spencer informed the Midland County District Attorney’s Office and Senior District Attorney Ralph Petty requested that an attorney be appointed for Vela and joined in a petition of a writ of habeas corpus seeking to vacate the conviction.

A trial judge recommended that the writ be granted and on January 16, 2016, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the writ and vacated Vela’s conviction. On January 19, 2016, Petty dismissed the charge.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 3/17/2016
Most Serious Crime:Weapon Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2014
Sentence:3 years
Age at the date of reported crime:21
Contributing Factors:Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No