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Carlos Jaile

Other El Paso County, Texas, Exonerations
On March 25, 2022, more than three decades after Carlos Jaile was wrongly convicted of aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping, the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges after admitting that DNA tests exonerating Jaile had never been disclosed.

The unraveling of the case against Jaile was sparked in a most unusual manner: A female juror who had been haunted for nearly three decades by her decision in December 1990 to vote to convict Jaile came forward.

She had long feared an injustice had occurred–that Jaile, a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman who had been sentenced to life in prison, was actually innocent. And so, in 2018, she reached out to the El Paso District Attorney’s Office and voiced her angst. The resulting review of Jaile’s case revealed that after Jaile was arrested, the El Paso police department had asked the FBI to test a rape kit and conduct microscopic hair comparison of evidence in the case. Months before Jaile went to trial, the FBI reported that Jaile was excluded as the source of the evidence.

But Jaile and his lawyer were never informed of the results. And on December 19, 1990, based solely on the identification of Jaile by the victim, who was eight at the time of the crime, the jury convicted him. Jaile was sentenced to life in prison.

Jaile was 32 years old when he was convicted. He spent more than 28 years in prison until he was released on bond in 2019 after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals vacated his conviction and ordered a new trial. The appeals court agreed with the recommendation of El Paso County District Court Judge Patrick Garcia that DNA test results and microscopic hair comparison performed by the FBI before Jaile’s trial had exonerated him of the crime.

“The Court finds that it was incumbent upon the state to reveal this information to [Jaile’s] defense counsel when the state learned of this information in January and May 1990,” Judge Garcia ruled. “It appears that the state’s attorneys, in the least, were grossly negligent, if not more, in failing to discover this information and turn it over to the defense. The state’s excuse that they did not know about these reports because the reports were sent to the El Paso Police Department and not to the state, is unacceptable.”

Jaile had been convicted of the abduction and rape of an eight-year-old girl on August 3, 1987. The girl told police that she was taken to a secluded location in El Paso where she was anally raped. Her attacker then took the girl to a different part of El Paso where he dropped her off, saying that if she told anyone, she and her mother would be killed.

The girl did tell someone, who contacted police. The girl was taken to a hospital and a rape kit was taken.

Nearly two years later, in June 1989, police arrested Jaile on charges that he exposed himself to two young girls. He subsequently was also charged with the assault on the eight-year-old girl. Jaile, who was 29 years old at the time of the crime and had no prior record, was indicted on July 25, 1989 on charges of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping.

The charges came at a time when false allegations of child sex abuse were sweeping parts of the U.S. in what became known as child sex abuse hysteria. Authorities claimed that children had been sexually assaulted, sometimes at schools and day care centers. In 1985, two day care center teachers in El Paso, Gayle Dove and Michelle Noble, were accused of abusing children. They were convicted and later exonerated when the allegations were shown to be false.

At the time of Jaile’s arest, police said that he was a suspect in the sexual assault of a five-year-old girl in 1987 as well as perhaps two dozen cases of indecent exposure. However, he was not indicted for any other crimes–only the sexual assault of the eight-year-old.

In December 1990, Jaile went to trial in El Paso County Criminal District Court. The girl identified him as her attacker.

Jaile testified and denied attacking the girl. He told the jury that he was a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman and was working at the time of the attack, which occurred between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Two women testified that Jaile had contacted them at their home on the afternoon of the day of the crime. One witness said he came to her home at about 2 p.m. The second said he was at her home in the late afternoon. Both of these contacts were corroborated by contracts documenting the sale of vacuum cleaners to the women.

Another salesman testified that he and Jaile were working together and sold a vacuum earlier in the day—close to noon. However, no documentation of this sale could be found in the company records.

On December 19, 1990, the jury convicted Jaile of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping. During the sentencing hearing that followed immediately after the verdict was announced, Jaile’s defense attorney addressed the jurors.

“Ladies and gentlemen, in some 26 long years of prosecuting and defending people in court, in trying some literally hundreds of cases, I have never felt compelled or had the opportunity to say three things that I want to say to this jury,” the attorney declared. “It's not going to take me long and I will sit down and shut up.”

“I am shocked and appalled by your verdict,” he said. “A great injustice has been done here. Whatever you do with respect to sentencing can only compound it. I am sorry, but I cannot find it in my heart to thank you.”

The jurors then sentenced Jaile to life in prison on the aggravated sexual assault charge and 20 years on the kidnapping charge.

On July 1, 1992, the Eighth Court of Appeals upheld the convictions. The appeals court rejected Jaile’s argument that his defense attorney had provided an inadequate legal defense by antagonizing the jury during the sentencing hearing. The court said the claim was “inconsequential.”

In 2018, the female juror reached out to the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office. She said she had been troubled by the case, in particular because of the alibi presented by Jaile’s attorney. She said she feared a miscarriage of justice had occurred.

In response, District Attorney Jaime Esparza asked a veteran deputy district attorney, Roberto Ramos, to review the case file. To Ramos’s shock, he discovered that prior to Jaile’s trial, the El Paso police had sent hairs recovered from the victim as well as the rape kit to the FBI. The FBI had sent reports back saying that DNA tests—the process was then in its infancy—had excluded Jaile as the source of the semen. In addition, the FBI, based on microscopic hair comparison, concluded that Jaile was excluded as the source of the hair.

At the request of Ramos, El Paso attorney Matthew “Mateo” DeKoatz was appointed to represent Jaile. In August 2018, DeKoatz filed a state law petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The petition cited letters from the FBI sent in January and May 1990—several months prior to Jaile’s trial—which reported that Jaile had been excluded as the source of the physical evidence in the case.

On March 25, 2019, 384th Judicial District Court Judge Patrick Garcia approved a recommendation to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that the writ be granted. In addition to chastising the prosecution, Judge Garcia also faulted Jaile’s trial defense lawyer. “The Court further finds that the defense attorney was aware that these tests were being conducted and should have demanded to know the results of said tests,” Judge Garcia said.

On July 3, 2019, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, in a two-page ruling, granted the writ, vacated Jaile’s convictions, and ordered a new trial. “The trial court has determined that the State violated its duty to disclose evidence and that the evidence withheld was material,” the court declared. “The trial court recommends granting relief. We agree.”

On September 13, 2019, Jaile was released on bond. He had spent nearly 29 years in prison since his conviction in December 1990.

On March 25, 2022, the prosecution dismissed the charges. In 2023, Jaile met the juror, Estella Ybarra, whose doubts prompted the reinvestigation of his case.

In March 2024, Jaile filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking compensation for his wrongful conviction.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 4/6/2022
Last Updated: 6/3/2024
County:El Paso
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1987
Age at the date of reported crime:29
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes*