ASL CRU Felix Garcia Update Dec 2019

Here we provide a short update on Felix Garcia’s case. Take a look and share your thoughts using #DeafWrongfulConviction.

Join our online roundtable tomorrow at 12 noon EST if you want to learn more on this important topic.

#FreeFelixGarcia

Video Description: A young light skinned Latinx with a two french braids wearing a black shirt, sitting down behind a white wall using ASL:

Many of you have been following Felix’s case for almost a decade with HEARD. Thank you for caring about his case. Others may be wondering who is Felix Garcia & what’s going on?

This is a VERY BRIEF summary of some important facts of Felix’s case and an update about the most recent happen with his case. There is a lot of information online you can find about his case so this is a very brief version.

Who is Felix?

Felix is an innocent DeafDisabled Latinx man. He who has spent almost FORTY YEARS in prison for a murder his hearing brother frank did crime.

What happened?

Felix’s brother Frank implicated Felix because he thought he would tet less severe punishment. He did not want the death penalty and could be offered a lesser charrge if he said Felix was involved. Later Frank recanted and said his brother Felix was not involved. Frank confessed and said that Felix was not involved. The legal system has received Frank’s information about Felix’s innocence. Sadly the legal system says it will NOT believe or accept Frank’s changed story bc Frank is “not reliable”.

There was no DNA or physical evidence at the crime scene connecting Felix to thee crime. His brother Frank’s fingerprints were found at crime scene. Frank is still in prison for this crime and many people have been fighting to get Felix out of prison for OVER 20 years.

Felix has an advocate named Pat Bliss who has been supporting him since 1996 try to free him. Felix has the support of a volunteer attorney named Reggie Garcia who also has been working to try to help prove Felix’s innocence for several years. HEARD advocates have also been supporting this effort and helping with access and safety issues Felix has experienced for ten years.

SO WHAT HAPPENED RECENTLY?

Earlier this year, Pat & Reggie submitted an application to the very new group under the Florida State Attorney’s Office. Florida State Attorneys office is the prosecutors’ office. Inside that office there is a special group called Conviction Review Unit (CRU).

CRU’s purpose?

The purpose of the CRU is to try to identify innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted and are stuck stay stay in prison. But the CRU has VERY strict standards.

For example each person’s CRU application is very complex and must show VERY specific requirements to pass CRU review test to have the CRU recommend that charges be vacated. If person’s application does not meet those very specific requirements, CRU can not help change/dismiss the original conviction. This very difficult process involves application submit, investigation, interviews of applicant, interviews of witnesses, CRU submission of a report to the advisory committee (who is a group of three retired judges outside of the office), and then a final decision on the application by the state’s attorney.

If the applicant shows each requirements, the CRU will publicly announce that the case was a wrongful conviction and vacate the old conviction. Only a TINY number of people will be able to successfully get through this process. The CRU also has another goal: to reduce wrongful convictions by working to identify and avoid mistakes that are common on future cases

Of course our hope is that CRU will recommend to dismiss/change Felix’s conviction. BUT we don’t know what the outcome will be especially considering this complex & strict process. If his application is not successful it does not mean that Felix is guilty. It would just mean that the application did not pass the very strict test required pass by CRU to vacate his conviction.

The final decision on Felix’s CRU application will be made around end of this month, December 2019. If his application is denied, the community would need to send encouragement to Felix to keep his spirits up and the community can still help support him for his upcoming parole board review which should be in 2020.

FINAL THOUGHTS . . .

As you know, Deaf/Disabled people are more likely to be wrongfully arrested and incarcerated due to systemic and failures in our legal system including racism, classism, ableism, audism, etc.

Our community has come together before to free other innocent deaf people like John Wilson, Jr., and we can do it again. Let’s stay connected and informed so we are ready to take action to support Felix and others in our Deaf/Disabled communities who are wrongfully convicted and suffering in our prisons!

Please use the hashtag #FreeFelixGarcia & #DeafWrongfulConviction to share and learn more.

HEARD will be sure to keep you updated. Thank you for watching and caring.

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