Former Texas Ranger Sal Abreo said he didn’t lie in his official report – he just wasn’t truthful.
Abreo is one of the defendants in a federal lawsuit filed by two men who were imprisoned on capital murder charges for more than a decade.
Abreo testified for more than three hours Friday morning before the court adjourned for the weekend. He was expected to return to the witness stand Monday morning.
Alberto Sifuentes and Jesus Ramirez, Mexican nationals in the country legally, were arrested and convicted for the 1996 capital murder of Evangelina Cruz at the Jolly Roger convenience store in Littlefield.
The state’s highest criminal appeals court overturned their convictions in 2008, finding the original trial attorneys were constitutionally ineffective, and sent the cases back to Lamb County for retrial.
A Lamb County grand jury did not find sufficient evidence to pursue charges, and the cases were dropped.
Sifuentes and Ramirez have since sued the law enforcement officers and prosecutors they say manipulated and falsified evidence to secure their unconstitutional convictions.
Specifically, the plaintiffs are accusing Abreo and his co-defendants of concealing exculpatory evidence, fabricating evidence, coercing witnesses and entering a conspiracy to knowingly convict Sifuentes and Ramirez based on false evidence.
One of the key tenets of the plaintiffs’ complaint is that Abreo purposely falsified his report.
Abreo said he wasn’t lying when he wrote in his report that Littlfield Police Sgt. Craig Thompson gave him a physical description of the suspects differing from what Thompson actually reported.
When shown the description in Abreo’s report, Thompson said it was false.
The discrepancy was simply misattribution, Abreo said.
“The information is all factual,” he testified. “I, by mistake, credited Sgt. Thompson.”
Abreo then entered into a semantic debate with Ronald W. Breaux, one of Sifuentes and Ramirez’s attorneys, about whether the report was “not true” or “incorrect.”
“The statement itself is incorrect; but the information was true,” Abreo said.