The Accused: Cruz Salgado
The Victim: Carolyn Hunter
The Players: Wade Houston - the best friend. Kimberly Sparks - the witness prostitute. Alec Sutherland - the cop. Sonya Quintano - the lawyer and sister of the accused. Angel Romero and Ray Lindo - the real culprits.
Cruz Salgado, a 19-year-old Mexican boy newly drafted by the Oakland A's, is found guilty of murdering Berkeley student, Carolyn Hunter, in 1998. Just like that, in the blink of an eye, his future went from throwing a 93 mph fast ball in the Major Leagues to serving 40 to life in prison for a crime he swears he didn't commit.
His sister Sonya has studied to become a lawyer because of her brother and took over his case, assured that the cop who pulled up the arrest, Alec Sutherland, was a racist cop and made up the evidence, twisting it to insure Cruz would take the fall. And, for a while, it looked as though it was a strong possibility. A store videotape that was considered evidence was misplaced and never shared with the defense, the witnesses sworn statements were not all entered as evidence and edited to corroborate each other. But when the tape shows up, thus confirming the evidence, it appears the National Justice Project might just have encountered its first true guilty client.
Cruz's defense for 8 years had been that he'd left the convenience store with his friend, Wade, that night and had never followed Carolyn. However, the store videotape clearly showed him entering the car of the victim and driving off with her. When confronted, Cruz said he got scared of what people would think of a Mexican boy with a white girl, so he said he didn't go. But, while he lied about that, he didn't lie about not killing her. Carolyn had kicked him out of the car after she received a phone call.
When the phone call is tracked back to 4533 NE Street, which is now an empty dirt lot in a tough neighborhood, Brianna and Sonya learn some very interesting information. The phone call Carolyn received originated from a dope house - one that had been in operation for many years. Meanwhile, Conti is piecing together a few things of his own from the crime scene pictures. There was an object on the ground to the right of the victim that had never been photographed as evidence and never entered as evidence. But what if it was? And what if there were more fingerprints to be found on the steering wheel than those of Cruz Salgado? Prints that could not be disclosed because the suspect was underaged at the time of the murder?
Using the new evidence and his gut feelings, Conti goes to his buddy at the police precinct to ask him to give AFAIS a new run with the prints found on the streeting wheel. Sure enough, a new name came up: Angel Romero, who was 13 at the time of the murder and worked for Ray Lindo, a known drug dealer who had history with Conti who had arrested so many of his people in the past (Charles Conti was a cop before becoming the investigator for the National Justice Project and co-founder). A talk with Angel revealed some most interesting information. Carolyn wasn't the innocent college student as had been previously believed. She had been a drug dealer for Lindo, one of his best dealers, until she got greedy and started crossing him. Angel found out and told Lindo about it. Lindo asked Angel to teach her a lesson... a lesson that cost Carolyn her life and Cruz Salgado eight years of his.
When Conti learned Carolyn's true character, he was able to determine the piece of "trash" photographed at the crime scene was actually a calling card with a scorpion symbol on it, which led Conti to realize the murder had been initiated by Lindo.