After deliberating for about five hours, a federal jury determined Wednesday that Lamb County officials did nothing wrong in the 1996 arrest of Jesus Ramirez and Alberto Sifuentes. The plaintiffs will not be compensated in any way.
Ramirez and Sifuentes were arrested a few days after the murder of Evangelina Cruz at the Littlefield's Jolly Roger convenience store on August 6th, 1996. Ramirez and Sifuentes were convicted of killing Cruz, but that conviction was later overturned in 2008 and both men were released from prison after serving 12 years.
Claiming they were the targets of false allegations and shoddy police work, the two men filed a $24 million lawsuit against Lamb County, the Littlefield Police Department, Officer Leo Ponce, District Attorney Mark Yarborough and lead investigator Sal Abreo of the Texas Rangers.
"I'm just glad that its over," murder victim Evangelina Cruz's sister in law, Jaclyn Aguirre said.
Texas Ranger Sal Abreo released a statement after the verdict was read: "Men of integrity when attacked will not respond, but will wait patiently until time proves them right."
"On behalf of my clients the verdict came as no surprise they are outstanding public servants who work hard for the public. It is unfortunate that they were sued but thankfully we have a system that works and when you get jurors who really listen and evaluate the situation, you get results like this," Defense Attorney, Bill Hefland said.
KCBD NewsChannel 11 tried to reach Sifuentes and Ramirez for comment but they were not available.
The trial lasted five weeks and jurors had to answer 75 questions to determine the verdict.