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Former cop again invokes 5th Amendment on coercion allegations

Former Chicago police detective Reynaldo Guevarleaves criminal courts 26th Street CaliforniAvenue July 29 2013. | Sun-Times~Alex Wroblewski

Former Chicago police detective Reynaldo Guevara leaves criminal courts, 26th Street and California Avenue July 29, 2013. | Sun-Times~Alex Wroblewski

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Updated: July 29, 2013 8:19PM

Reynaldo Guevara spelled his name.

And he admitted he worked for the Chicago Police Department for 32 years from 1973 until 2005.

Then the retired police detective clammed up in a Cook County courtroom for the second time in two months Monday when confronted with allegations that he spent decades on the force brutally coercing confessions out of suspects.

“I take the Fifth,” said Guevara in refusing to testify.

This time the questions came from Andrew Vail, defense attorney for Arturo DeLeon-Reyes. Along with Gabriel Solache, Reyes was convicted in June 2000 for the murders of Mariano and Jacinta Soto. Their attorneys say no physical evidence linked them to the brutal crime.

Instead, they contend their clients’ convictions rest solely upon confessions coerced by Guevara. Solache, for example, claims Guevara beat, isolated and interrogated him for more than 40 hours before Solache agreed to make a statement.

Guevara had a chance to deny those allegations Monday while being questioned by Vail in Cook County Judge James Obbish’s courtroom. Instead, he repeatedly asserted his “Fifth Amendment constitutional rights.”

He did so calmly and softly, even when Vail asked if Guevara threatened DeLeon-Reyes with the electric chair.

Solache actually faced the death penalty after he and DeLeon-Reyes were convicted for the Sotos’ killings. Adriana Mejia allegedly orchestrated the killings and kidnapped the couple’s children because she was obsessed with being a mother. The Sotos were stabbed more than 60 times.

Former Gov. George Ryan issued a blanket commutation to every person on death row in 2003, and Solache was among those spared. Now he, DeLeon-Reyes and Mejia are serving life sentences.

In his latest bid for a new trial, Solache said he only confessed after Guevara called him a liar and began to beat him with an open hand on the left side of his face. He claimed he suffered severe hearing loss in his left ear and now wears a hearing aid.

He said he told Guevara that “yes, he had killed the man” after Guevara also began hitting him in the stomach, accusing him of the crime.

DeLeon-Reyes contends Guevara slapped him in the face, handcuffed him and — without reading him his rights — asked DeLeon-Reyes why he did “it.” Later, when DeLeon-Reyes denied being involved in the Sotos’ deaths, DeLeon-Reyes said Guevara would call him a liar, yell at him and slap him on the face with an open hand.

A federal jury gave $21 million in 2009 to Juan Johnson, a man who spent 11 years in prison for a wrongful murder conviction that hinged on testimony from people who later said they only implicated him because Guevara or others working for him told them to do so.

Guevara also refused to testify last month when defense attorneys for Armando Serrano and Jose Montanez questioned him about similar allegations. Guevara’s attorney, Elizabeth Ekl, said at the time her client “devoted 33 1/2 years of his life investigating gang crimes in a neighborhood he lived in and now he’s being targeted for doing his job.”

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