Daniel Kamacho

Los Angeles County, California
Date of Crime:  March 11, 1946

Daniel Kamacho was convicted of the murder of Deputy Sheriff Fred T. Guiol. Guiol attended a movie with a friend, Miss Pearl Rattenbury, and drove her to her home at 1117 Elden Ave. Before Rattenbury could step out of the car, a young man armed with a gun wrenched open the car door and demanded the occupants hand over their money. When Guiol reached for his gun, the man shot Guiol dead and ran off.

Since the interior light of the car came on when the assailant opened the door, Rattenbury got a good look at him. Nevertheless, to each of the many suspects brought to her in the months following the murder, she told police, “He's not the man.” Four months after the murder, police questioned Kamacho about it because he matched Rattenbury's description of the assailant. Kamacho denied any knowledge of the murder. However, when put in a police lineup, Rattenbury identified him as the assailant without hesitation.

Not long after the identification, Kamacho confessed to shooting Guiol. Kamacho was hazy on details of the shooting saying he was high on marijuana at the time. Kamacho told his public defender, Ellery Cuff, that his confession was voluntary. Rattenbury had been so positive in her identification that Kamacho felt he had to be the assailant. However, after Cuff pressed him for details on what he did on the days surrounding the murder, Kamacho suddenly realized that he had been in Juarez, Mexico at the time. Asked to furnish proof, Kamacho was doubtful, but then brightened. He had been in jail there for several days. Perhaps one of the days was the day of the murder.

Cuff wrote to Mexican authorities, but received no reply. He also contacted Kamacho's relatives in Juarez to look into the matter. The prosecutor's office delayed trial a full year, giving Kamacho every opportunity to prove his innocence. By the time of trial, Kamacho was convinced he had been in jail on the day of the murder. At trial Kamacho's sister arrived and testified that he was in jail, but said Mexican authorities would not give her a copy of any jail records. In light of the other evidence against Kamacho, he was convicted.

Following trial, the police and the prosecutor's office agreed to help Kamacho. An official request was made to El Paso police, across the border from Juarez. Two investigators went to Juarez, but were denied permission to examine court or jail records. The L.A. district attorney's office then sent one of its investigators there. The investigator learned that a man named Kamacho had been in jail there from Mar. 3 to Mar. 11, the previous year, but could not determine if the prisoner was the Kamacho convicted of Guiol's murder. Juarez officials were baffled by the attention paid to Kamacho, who admittedly had a criminal record. Finally, the detective who arrested Kamacho, the attorney who prosecuted him, and defense attorney Cuff visited Juarez. With the detective's fluency in Spanish, all difficulties ceased and police and jail officials opened up their records. The records confirmed Kamacho's alibi and his conviction was subsequently vacated.  [7/09]


Reference:  The Innocents

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Los Angeles Cases, Police Officer Murder Cases, Inconsistent Confessions