Jose Cruz, wrongly convicted of murder, freed after 28 years in prison; case involving the former Chicago Police Department. Reynaldo Guevara

JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) – Tuesday is the day Jose Cruz’s family fears will never come.

His sister hugged him tightly after he left the Stateville Prison.

SEE ALSO | Judge overturns man’s murder conviction saying he was framed by disgraced former CPD detective

He was greeted by friends and relatives, including his cousin, who had been his alibi years ago. Instead of believing his family, police and prosecutors believe former Chicago police detective Reynaldo Guevara is falling out of favor.

“No one wants to believe us but here we are. Do you believe us now?” Cruz said.

Cruz was sentenced to 90 years for the murder which was vacated on Monday. Cruz is now 53 years old. He spent more than 28 years in prison.

“This is a happy moment,” Cruz said. “This is a happy moment. There’s nothing to be sad about. I’m not angry. I forgive Guevara and everyone who did what they did to me.”

“I’m glad that justice has come,” said Jose Ortiz, Cruz’s nephew. “Obviously my grandmother didn’t see this fast enough and my grandfather and my aunts and uncles have passed away.”

“They told me my dad had cancer. It was very difficult. And my brother had cancer. It was difficult. My mother made it through. It was also very difficult,” Cruz said.

According to Cruz’s attorney, there are more than 50 cases involving Guevara, and about half have so far been dismissed. Guevara is retired and has not been charged.

RELATED | Chicago man exonerated from 1991 murder after forced confession from CPD detectives

“He was crafty about how to get people convicted and now he’s crafty about how to get himself out of trouble,” said Greg Swygert, Cruz’s attorney.

Eventually, Cruz hopes to receive a Certificate of Innocence to have his conviction cleared. Currently, Cruz has gone directly to his aunt’s restaurant to enjoy jibarito, a Puerto Rican specialty. And later this week, he is expected to be in court to assist inmates, who are hoping they will be pardoned in due course.

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