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Adolfo Rosario

Other Exonerations with Misconduct by Detective Guevara
At 2 a.m. on July 9, 1988, a group of members of the Latin Kings street gang were standing outside a school in the 2200 block of West McLean Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, when a car containing three youths drove by. The youths were flashing Latin Kings signs, but were using their left hands, which was known as “false flagging,” meaning they were not Latin Kings members.

When the Latin Kings standing on the street flashed back with their signs indicating they were Latin Kings, the car drove off.

One of those standing on the street, Louis Crespo, later told police that after the car left, he walked across the street and then heard gunshots. He said he ducked behind a car and saw a person in the alley on one knee firing a gun. The gunman then fled.

When police arrived, they found 25-year-old Anthony Hawkins had been fatally shot. Hawkins was a security guard at the school. A woman who lived across the street from the school, Denise Seay-Cuziamo, told police she heard the gunshots and saw three males running. The first person jumped the fence and cut through the alley. She then saw a shorter person but did not see him jump the fence. She also saw a tall person jump the fence and run toward her house in the alley. He slowed down outside her house, and their eyes met. He yelled something about getting a shotgun, she said.

On July 13, 1988, Gang Crimes police officer Reynaldo Guevara arrested 15-year-old Tony Melicio, a member of the Latin Lovers gang, a rival of the Latin Kings gang. During an interrogation, Melicio gave a statement implicating 25-year-old Adolfo Rosario as the gunman. Melicio claimed that he and 17-year-old Gustavo Segovia were with Rosario and that the shooting was in retaliation for a prior shooting of a member of the Latin Lovers.

Later that day, Guevara showed Seay-Cuziamo a book containing photographs of members of the Latin Lovers street gang. Guevara would later testify that Seay-Cuziamo selected a photograph of Rosario as the person she saw in the alley.

The police then arrested Segovia, and two days later, on July 15, the police arrested Rosario.

Rosario was placed in a four-person lineup, and Seay-Cuziamo identified him as the gunman.

Rosario, Melicio, and Segovia were charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, and aggravated battery with a firearm. Prior to his trial in Cook County Circuit Court, Rosario’s attorney, Richard Bueke, filed a motion to suppress Seay-Cuziamo’s identification, arguing that it was suggestive because there were only four people in the lineup. In addition, Rosario was the only participant with long hair and no facial hair. He wore a bright-colored track suit while the other three participants wore t-shirts and shorts. Rosario also had a number written on his left-hand with black marker, which Rosario claimed had been written by Guevara as a signal to Seay-Cuziamo that she should choose him from the line-up.

The motion was denied.

Rosario went to trial in July 1991 on the charge of first-degree murder. The other charges were dismissed by the prosecution prior to selection of a jury. Seay-Cuziamo testified and identified him as the man she saw in the alley.

Melicio, who was still awaiting trial, testified for the prosecution. He said after a member of their gang had been shot by a member of the Latin Kings, Rosario told him and Segovia that he would show them how to “put on a roll” and get away with it.

According to Melicio, Rosario got a .38-caliber pistol and a shotgun that belonged to the gang, and they drove to the school. Melicio said they should falsely represent themselves as Latin Kings so the people on the street, who were Latin Kings, would not be suspicious of them. Melicio said Rosario drove to the alley and stopped. Segovia stayed in the car with the engine running.

Melicio said he and Rosario walked down the alley toward the school. Along the way, Rosario hid the shotgun under a garbage can. They jumped over a fence, and Rosario got down on one knee. Melicio said Rosario fired five shots and then they went back over the fence, got to the car, and Segovia drove away. Melicio said they stopped at a tavern where Rosario bought two beers. They then drove to a park where Rosario poured the beer over his arm to remove gun powder.

Melicio denied that he was testifying in return for any favorable treatment from the prosecution.

On July 19, 1991, the jury convicted Rosario of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to 57 years in prison. On September 5, 1991, the prosecution dismissed the charges against Melicio and Segovia. The dismissal suggested that Melicio had testified falsely when he denied he was going to get favorable treatment for his testimony.

In August 1994, the First District Illinois Appellate Court upheld his conviction. In 1999, Rosario filed a post-conviction petition, but it was dismissed as frivolous.

On December 23, 2019, Rosario was released from prison on parole. He had served 28 years, five months and six days from the day of his conviction.

In 2020, Jennifer Bonjean and Ashley Cohen of the Bonjean Law Group along with attorney Steve Greenberg filed an amended post-conviction petition claiming that Rosario was innocent and had been framed by Guevara.

By that time, more than a dozen men whose convictions had been obtained by Guevara had been exonerated. Guevara, working with his partner, Ernest Halvorsen, had been found to have coerced false statements and false identifications from witnesses, as well as having used physical violence to extract false confessions from other suspects.

The petition noted that the identification by Seay-Cuziamo was highly suspect given the allegations of the tainted lineup.

The petition also detailed how Rosario’s trial defense attorney, Bueke, was representing Guevara in civil matters at the same time Rosario was on trial—a conflict of interest that “requires reversal of Rosario’s conviction.”

In 2016, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office had agreed to vacate and dismiss the 1990 conviction of Jose Maysonet for a double murder because Bueke defended him and did not disclose his representation of Guevara.

The petition noted that a report from the FBI in 2001 reported that Bueke had worked closely with disgraced criminal police detective Joseph Miedzianowski to help rip off drug dealers and represent various drug dealers and gang members who conspired with Miedzianowski. The FBI report said that a witness had heard that after a man named Abraham Omar was arrested by Guevara for a murder, Bueke “arranged to have the case dropped in exchange for an additional $20,000.” According to the witness, in 1987 or 1988, Guevara arrested a person named Marcus, who later paid Bueke an additional $20,000 beyond Bueke’s initial fee to “beat the case.”

The petition also described in painstaking detail the multitude of cases that had been tainted by Guevara’s misconduct. Ultimately, more than 40 men would have their convictions set aside because of Guevara’s misconduct.

On November 2, 2022, the Cook County State’s attorney’s office assented to the granting of the petition. Cook County Circuit Court Judge Carol Howard vacated Rosario’s conviction, and the case was dismissed.

In December 2023, Rosario filed a petition seeking a certificate of innocence, which would clear the way for him to seek compensation from the state of Illinois for his wrongful conviction. The petition noted: “Melecio testified falsely when he claimed that he had no expectation of leniency in exchange for his self-incriminating testimony at [Rosario’s] trial.”

The petition said that during a deposition in another case, Guevara invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions “about whether he rigged Rosario's identification and framed him.”

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 3/12/2024
Last Updated: 3/12/2024
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1988
Sentence:57 years
Age at the date of reported crime:25
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No