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12 Years in Prison but Innocent, Men Say

AUSTIN (CN) - Two men say they were framed for a murder they did not commit and spent almost 12 years in prison because state, county and city officials just wanted to get a conviction.

Jesus Ramirez and Alberto Sifuentes sued officials with the Texas Rangers, the Lamb County District Attorney's Office, the City of Littlefield Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The men were released from life sentences in prison on April 29, 2008, "after their convictions were overturned and a grand jury summarily determined, after just minutes of deliberation, that no charges should be brought against either man," according to their separate federal complaints. They had been convicted of killing Evangelina Cruz, who was shot to death on Aug. 6, 1996.

Before she died, Cruz told the officers she had been shot by "2 Hispanic males 18 to 20 years of age," according to the complaint. At the time, Ramirez was 47

They say the defendants "deliberately and repeatedly employed irreparably suggestive identification procedures that led key witnesses to identify" them falsely. They say the defendants "fabricated evidence presented to and used by prosecutors to support their charging decisions; deliberately coerced witnesses into providing false and unreliable evidence and testimony; deliberately chose not to explore other obvious leads" and "intentionally disregarded and concealed facts that were consistent" with plaintiffs' innocence.

The men want monetary damages and injunctions to rectify the defendants' interrogation procedures, including videotaping of all interviews.

Both men are represented by Barry McNeil.

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