Seventeen Convictions Overturned In Hillsborough County
The Hillsborough County state attorney announced Wednesday that the convictions of 17 people will be overturned because their cases hinged on three arresting police officers.
State Attorney Andrew Warren said the convictions will be vacated because his office cannot verify the testimony of the officers who were later fired. His move comes after an investigation by the new Conviction Review Unit, which was formed last year to give people a voice when they believe they have been unfairly convicted.
The cases invoved former Tampa Police officers John Laratta, Mark Landry, and Algenis Maceo.
That investigation centered on failures by the officers to document detentions of suspects and seizures of evidence. The unit reviewed 225 closed cases dating back to 2018 that involved any of the three officers. They found 17 cases in which at least one of the three officers was considered an "essential witness" and there was no independent evidence to confirm their testimony.
“The three officers’ credibility was severely damaged, and we could not in good faith let convictions stand based exclusively on their word,” Warren said during a news conference. “There was no credible evidence to sustain any of the convictions.”
Each of the 17 cases involved a different defendant who was subjected to a patrol stop and seizure conducted by one or more of the three officers. Warren said all 17 defendants pleaded guilty, and none are still behind bars.
The unit submitted its findings to an independent review panel made up of former Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy A. Quince, former State Attorney and Appellate Judge E.J. Salcines, and former Appellate Judge Chris Altenbernd.