Jose Miguel Perez is about to be sentenced to life in prison for a crime he claims he did not commit.[/b]
The Compton resident, 27 and a father of two small children ages 6 and 7, is accused of shooting a man and a woman at close range and has been tried three times in court. A mistrial was declared the first time while the second trial resulted in a hung jury. He was found guilty recently in a third trial. Perez is scheduled for sentencing tomorrow Friday, Aug. 21 at 8:30 am.
Today, Thursday, in a last-minute effort to secure his freedom, Perez's family held a press conference to release a pair of videos they say exonerate their son and demand that the District Attorney's Office drop the charges. In one of the videos, one of the alleged victims speaks publicly for the first time stating Perez was not the shooter.
The press conference comes one day before Jose Miguel Perez is sentenced in Compton, facing the possibility of a life sentence. It will take place in front of Compton City Hall, 205 S. Willowbrook Ave.ÔÇôlocated next to the Compton Courthouse.
Perez's alleged victims never identified him as the shooter nor testified against him in court, according to the Perez's relatives. The victims recently recorded two videos finally speaking out on the case. These videos will be shown by Perez's family at the press conference and copies of them will be shared with journalists and media outlets.
"My son is innocent and these videos prove it," says Alicia Ochoa, 63 and a retired machine operator, who will attend the conference. "I plead to the court to watch these videos before they commit a great injustice with my son."
Also attending the press Thursday's conference will be Perez's cousin Mairet Sandoval. "This new evidence points to the innocence of Jose," says Sandoval, 30. "The investigation was incomplete and incompetent by both the Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney's Office. This is an innocent man facing life behind bars, a sentence that can also destroy the lives of his two small kids. The charges against my cousin should be dropped in the interest of justice."
The daughters of the main witness against Jose Miguel Perez are also confirmed to be present at the press conference. They claim authorities used her mentally ill mother to make a false case against the accused. "Our mom suffers from mental illness and we feel that detectives and the D.A. took advantage of her condition," says Tatiana Owens, 21. "We found this reprehensible and unacceptable. Yes, we are poor, we are Latinos but we refuse to allow law enforcement and the justice system to treat us as second class citizens. Latino lives matter. We will fight for Jose's freedom."
Owens says her mother's role in the case has tragically threaten a closely knitted, large Hispanic family: The accused and the main witness against him are relatives.
At the press conference, another relative of Perez will address what she considers irregularities in his trials. Alexis Covarrubias, a student of criminal justice in college, questions the D.A.'s investigation, conduct and motives in the case. "The two victims never testified and the D.A. never got statements from them, even though one of the victims was incarcerated for about a month locally during the trial process," says Covarrubias. She is a niece of the accused. "This is the type of injustice that Latinos and blacks face everyday in Compton and across the nation," she adds.
Covarrubias made announcement calling for a state investigation into Perez's trial irregularities and potential violations of the law, conflict of interest and corruption among public servants involved in this case in Compton.
Some celebrities attended the press conference to make statements on Jose Manuel Perez's case.
The relatives and supporters of Perez were available for interviews in English and Spanish at the press conference.