(LOS ANGELES) — A man convicted of three rapes in Los Angeles has been exonerated.
On Monday, Luis Lorenzo Vargas’s conviction was thrown out by a Los Angeles judge after he spent 16 years behind bars.
Vargas’ lawyers said the three rapes were committed by the “Teardrop Rapist,” a serial rapist that is still on the loose for dozens of sexual assaults.
The “Teardrop Rapist” is known for a tattoo in the shape of a teardrop under his eye. Vargas was convicted based on eyewitness identification because he has a similar tattoo, according to a statement from the California Innocence Project.
“Bad eyewitness identifications are one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions,” said Professor Justin Brooks, Director of the California Innocence Project. “It’s time for [Vargas] to get back to his family and his life. Hopefully, this new evidence will help police catch the true perpetrator.”
DNA tests from some of the attacks were requested last year by the California Innocence Project and the results revealed DNA did not match up with the incarcerated 46-year-old.
After the results came out and a petition to reopen the case was filed, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office requested the judge to reverse the conviction, saying the office “no longer [had] confidence in the convictions.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Vargas will be placed in federal custody even though he was released due to an immigration hold.
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