Two San Antonio men who were convicted of drug charges have been exonerated.
John Gabriel Cape and Louie Garcia were arrested in Aug. 2017 after a confidential informant told investigators that they would find methamphetamine at a San Antonio home. The men were charged with felony possession of a controlled substance. Rexina Linan-Juarez was also arrested as a result of the information provided by the informant. It wasn’t until early 2020 that the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office learned there was strong evidence the informant planted the drugs.
“Whether it’s after arrest or after adjudication, when prosecutors learn of wrongdoing we have an obligation to right a wrong. If this informant had not planted drugs and led law enforcement to the scene, these three would not have been arrested. I am proud of the work our prosecutors and the Conviction Integrity Unit did in the interest of justice,” said District Attorney Joe Gonzales.
In Nov. 2018, the three entered pleas:
- Linan-Juarez pled nolo contendere to possession of a controlled substance PG 1, 4-200 grams. She was placed on deferred adjudication community supervision for 10 years.
- Cape pled nolo contendere to possession of a controlled substance PG 1, 4-200 grams. He was sentenced to 10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division.
- Garcia pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance PG 1, 4-200 grams. He was sentenced to 8 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division.
Linan-Juarez was Cape’s girlfriend. She had multiple health problems. Cape said he accepted the plea agreement so that Linan-Juarez could receive probation. Cape also said he feared he might receive a longer prison sentence if the case went to trial. Garcia also said he accepted the plea to avoid a longer prison sentence.
Linan-Juarez was released from jail and received treatment for her failing health while Cape and Garcia began serving their prison sentences.. All three maintained their innocence before and after the plea agreements.
In early 2020, an Assistant District Attorney reported to the Conviction Integrity Unit that the same confidential information from Linan-Juarez’s, Cape’s, and Garcia’s cases had lied when he provided information leading to another search that allowed police to discover drugs in a new case. The defendant in that new case provided proof that the confidential informant had planted the drugs – just as Linan-Juarez, Cape, and Garcia had claimed. The Conviction Integrity Unit immediately requested that attorneys be appointed to represent the three in post-conviction claims.
“The exonerations of Ms. Linan-Juarez, Mr. Cape, and Mr. Garcia are a testament to the system coming together and doing what’s right. The Conviction Integrity Unit is proud of the collaborative effort between the District Attorney’s Office, the attorneys for Mr. Cape and Mr. Garcia, and the courts in seeing that justice was done here,” said Conviction Integrity Unit Director Matthew Howard.
The Conviction Integrity Unit worked closely with attorneys for Linan-Juarez, Cape, and Garcia. Linan-Juarez died in hospice care days before her exoneration in Nov. 2020. Cape and Garcia were released from prison while awaiting consideration of their own cases. Earlier this month, the Court of Criminal Appeals exonerated Cape and Garcia. The cases against them are being dismissed.