A Fatal Confession: Keith Morrison Investigates on Investigation Discovery takes a closer look at the case of Daniel Villegas, who was forced into confessing to a crime he did not commit.
On April 10, 1993, two teenagers, Armando “Mando” Lazo, 17, and Bobby England, 18, were leaving a party when they were gunned down on Electric Street in El Paso, Texas.
Lazo and England died at the scene, but their friends survived the shooting.
When Villegas’ cousin, David Rangel, told police that he was bragging about killing Lazo and England, they brought him into the precinct for questioning, where he falsely confessed to the killings.
Villegas, who was 16 at the time, gave police details of the murder, but it didn’t match what actually happened.
Rangel testified that Villegas told him he was driving down the street when he saw a group of teens throwing up gang signs.
Villegas pulled over and confronted the group before he began shooting at them with a shotgun, but investigators said the teens were shot with a .22 caliber handgun, not a shotgun.
Rangel stated that when he told police that Villegas told him he used a shotgun, investigators yelled at him: “That’s not true. That’s not true.”
They then made him sign statements that had no mention of a shotgun.
Although Rangel and Villegas were providing information that didn’t correlate with the crime, Villegas was charged with the murders.
In 1994, he went to trial, but it ended in a mistrial. Villegas was re-tried the following year and was convicted of capital murder.
He was sentenced to life in prison, which was dismissed by an appeals court in 2013 when the judges determined he received ineffective counsel. He was then released from the El Paso County Jail on bond.
His third trial began in 2018. After a jury deliberated for nine hours, he was found not guilty of capital murder as they believed his 1993 confession was coerced.
The verdict came after Villegas served 18 years in prison.
A Fatal Confession: Keith Morrison Investigates airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.