Villavicencio-Serna v. Jackson, No. 19-2385 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Huerta was shot and killed in a parking lot in 2009. Huerta had been drinking with his uncle, Rojas, when a car pulled up, an occupant fired at Huerta, and the car sped away. Officers focused on Villavicencio‐Serna; his girlfriend’s father had reported her missing the morning of Huerta’s murder. The girlfriend eventually stated that she was with Villavicencio‐Serna on that night, that when she woke up, Villavicencio‐Serna stated that he “took care of business,” and that Villavicencio‐Serna had previously stated that he was prepared to shoot Huerta. She later changed her story, claiming that she was in the car with Villavicencio‐Serna’s friends, Daddio and Rogers, when Villavicencio‐Serna leaned out the window and shot Huerta. She later said that Villavicencio‐Serna reached over her to shoot. Daddio recounted that the four drove around the parking lot before Villavicencio‐Serna shouted at Huerta then fired shots. Rogers repeatedly stated that he knew nothing about the shooting, then changed his story, stating that Villavicencio‐Serna shot Huerta. Their stories were somewhat inconsistent.
All three recanted at trial, insisting that the officers scared them into implicating Villavicencio‐Serna; the officers’ version of the events was fed to them while the recording equipment was off. Allegedly unprompted, Rojas had identified Daddio’s car, a silver Cadillac, although his original story referred to a dark car.
Villavicencio‐Serna was convicted of first‐degree murder. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of his federal petition for habeas corpus relief while expressing concerns about the “troubling” inconsistencies and lack of physical evidence.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on August 12, 2019.