Man Wrongly Accused Of Murdering His Mother And Brother Wins $700,000
A man who was wrongly accused of the murder of his mother and brother will receive $700,000 from the City of Brea.
Eder Herrera spent four months in jail in 2011 after being charged with the murder of his mother Raquel Estrada, 53, and brother Juan Herrera, 34. Herrera was cleared when investigators found evidence implicating Itzcoatl Ocampo, a former high school friend of Herrera's who was also convicted of stabbing four homeless men to death.
Attorneys for the City defended Herrera's arrest, saying that a friend of Herrera's told police that the pair drove by Herrera's home the night of the killings, but that Herrera didn't want to stop and see why police were in the neighborhood, City News Service reports. Additionally, City attorneys said that a neighbor told police that he saw Herrera drag a heavy object through the door of his home the night after the murders. Herrera later said that he didn't stop to check out the police activity because he was an undocumented immigrant, but did call his brother several times, according to CBS.
Herrera's attorney, John Burton, said it was "sloppy" police work that landed Herrera in jail and that detectives ignored other evidence because they were convinced they had the right guy. This, he argued, allowed Ocampo to remain on the streets and kill more people.
Herrera and Ocampo were close friends in high school, but Herrera said that his friend was different after he returned from the Marines. Herrera suggested Ocampo seek professional help. Instead of taking his advice, Ocampo decided to kill him and his family. However, the night Ocampo went to Herrera's home, Herrera was at a friend's home.
While Herrera remained in jail, Ocampo killed four homeless men. Investigators said he was possibly inspired by the Dead Kennedys' "Kill the Poor." Ocampo's killing spree ended when 32-year-old Donny Hopkins witnessed him stabbing John Berry, 64. Hopkins called the police and chased Ocampo, eventually leading police right to him. After Ocampo's arrest, he told police that he had murdered Herrera's mother and brother, and that his intention had been to kill them all and make it look like a murder-suicide.
Ocampo died while in jail on Thanksgiving Day in 2013 by ingesting Ajax, which is provided to inmates for cleaning purposes. His death remains under investigation. Herrera now lives in Riverside with his uncles.