He Denied Guilt 65 Times. Then the Teen Just Gave Up

Lorenzo Montoya was freed from prison after 13 years
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2016 12:34 PM CDT
Updated Aug 6, 2016 4:00 PM CDT

Two years ago, Lorenzo Montoya left prison after 13 years when his conviction in the murder of a 29-year-old woman in Denver was dismissed. He is now suing the city and the cops who built the case against him when he was a young teenager, and the case is revisited in a lengthy piece at Westword headlined "How to Convict a 14-Year-Old of a Murder He Didn't Commit." In it, writer Alan Prendergast explains that the charges stemmed from a police interrogation of Montoya, one in which he denies his guilt 65 times before caving to relentless pressure. "The more he stumbles over his denials of any knowledge or involvement, the more the detectives press, smelling fear and vulnerability," he writes. "They tell Montoya they don’t want to put words in his mouth, then do exactly that."

When attorney Lisa Polansky took up the case pro bono in 2011, she knew something was wrong when her client didn't know key details about the murder. Then she watched two VHS recordings of his interrogation. “When [Montoya’s] mom left the room and it got really bad, I had to stand up,” she says. “I had to pace. I was saying, ‘Oh, my God. Oh, my God.’” Montoya finally began confessing when threatened with time in an adult prison (he'd end up there anyway), and detectives would correct him when he got facts wrong. (“Are you sure they went in the front?" says one. "I don’t think they went in the front.” After which, Montoya responds, "the back.") He was freed when he agreed to a plea of accessory after the fact—he'd gone for a ride in the victim's Lexus the day after her murder, though he says he didn't even know the car was stolen. Click for the full story. (More wrongful conviction stories.)

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