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Carlos Cruz-Romero

Other Idaho Exonerations
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Around 8:00 p.m. on April 27, 2014, police stopped 25-year-old Carlos Adrian Cruz-Romero in Jerome County, Idaho, after seeing his vehicle swerve across lanes and nearly hit two other vehicles. Police Sgt. Matthew West reported that after pulling the car over, he saw Cruz-Romero trying to move from behind the wheel and switch positions with Saige Jimenez, a passenger.

West reported that Cruz-Romero admitted to drinking six beers, that he was in fact driving when pulled over, and that he did not have valid driver’s license. West said Cruz-Romero had bloodshot eyes, smelled of alcohol, and was slurring his words.

Cruz-Romero displayed a “lack of smooth pursuit” when West administered an eye-tracking test. Sgt. West did not conduct any other tests because Cruz-Romero did not speak English. He arrested him and confiscated open cans of beer from the back seat of the vehicle where a third occupant was riding.

At the Jerome County Jail, Cruz-Romero, who had two prior drunk driving convictions, was given a breathalyzer test and the result showed he was over the legal limit. Cruz-Romero was charged with felony DUI, possession of open container, and obstructing a police officer. On December 1, 2014, Jerome County District Judge John Butler held a hearing on a defense motion to allow evidence that the breathalyzer machine used to test Cruz-Romero had malfunctioned on April 4, 2014, and also on May 15 and 16, 2014—before and after Cruz-Romero’s test. The machine had been tested on April 8 and May 9 and was said to have performed properly. Although the deputy in charge of the breathalyzer was unable to explain the cause of the malfunctions, Judge Butler barred the defense from presenting the evidence of the malfunctions.

On December 2, 2014, Mr. Cruz-Romero pled guilty to the driving under the influence charge, but reserved the right to appeal the judge’s ruling. He was sentenced to probation.

On March 31, 2016, the Idaho Court of Appeals reversed Cruz-Romero’s conviction and ruled that the evidence of the breathalyzer’s unreliability was admissible at a trial.

On September 18, 2016, while Cruz-Romero was awaiting a retrial, he was deported. On September 23, 2016, the prosecution dismissed the charges.

– Kevin McKinnon and Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 6/19/2018
State:Idaho
County:Jerome
Most Serious Crime:Traffic Offense
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2014
Convicted:2014
Exonerated:2016
Sentence:Probation
Race:Hispanic
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:25
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No