Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Exonerated Woman|Contests 675-Day Lockup

CHICAGO (CN) - Police jailed a woman for nearly two years on a murder she could not have committed because she was already locked up at the time of the crime, she claims in Federal Court.

Yesenia Santiago filed suit Monday against Chicago and Detectives Carlos Cortez and Roger Sandoval.

She claims that cold-case detectives accused her in 2011 of killing Ismael Santana.

But Santiago "was incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections on the date of the murder" in 2007, according to the complaint..

"Thus, it was impossible for the plaintiff to have committed this murder," she says.

The detectives nevertheless allegedly exploited Santiago's "obvious cognitive disability" to arrest her without a warrant, and subject her to hours of interrogation.

"Defendants Cortez and Sandoval fed the plaintiff information about the crime, then lied in police reports about doing so, making it appear as if the plaintiff was the one who knew about the details of the crime, when, in fact, she knew nothing about the actual details of the murder," the complaint states.

"Additionally, defendants Cortez and Sandoval threatened the plaintiff and also made her false promises of leniency to get her to confess to a crime they knew she did not commit or have any involvement in," Santiago says.

After 11 hours of interrogation, the detectives turned on the cameras, read Santiago her Miranda rights and videotaped her give a coerced confession, the complaint claims.

Based on this confession, Santiago was indicted for murder.

"Plaintiff remained continually incarcerated in connection with the criminal complaints signed by defendant Sandoval, and the superseding indictment in 12 CR 02506, from December 27, 2011, until October 31, 2013," or, 675 days, she says.

The case was dismissed as soon as a defense attorney learned Santiago was in jail at the time of the murder.

"The state's motion to dismiss was granted, and the plaintiff was finally able to gain release after spending 675 days incarcerated for a crime that it was impossible for to have committed," the complaint states.

Santiago seeks damages for violation of due process, malicious prosecution and emotional distress.

She is represented by Iveliz Orellano with Dvorak Law Offices.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.