Dylan Ryan Johnson, 30, is a United States citizen and he is currently being held in a prison in San Miguel de Allende, a town in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, for a crime he says he did not commit. However, it's not just his claim that is important, but the lack of evidence and the conflicting accounts of Mexican authorities that has his family and many Americans calling for Johnson to be released nearly ten years after the alleged crime and almost 2 years after his arrest.
Johnson had been in Comonfort, Guanajuato in 2003 to help his mother construct a new home there and spent time in the small town.
According to Mexico Gulf Reporter:
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Prosecutors allege that early on the morning of Sept. 7, 2003, when Johnson was 20, he drove his pickup truck into the small community of Empalme Escobedo in Guanajuato state and checked into a hotel with Hilario Garcia Rosales, who had worked for the American man. Johnson was intoxicated, according to witnesses.
Johnson departed about an hour later, but told the hotel staff that his friend would be staying longer. The boy's body was discovered the next day by a maid. Garcia was strangled shortly after someone had anal sex with him, according to forensic reports. Authorities originally accused Johnson of rape and premeditated murder, but he was convicted only of the latter.
The hotel was a place where rooms were rented by the hour and was known for clients that were prostitutes.
On September 11, 2003, Dylan, whose visa was about to expire, asked a neighbor to drop him at the bus station so he could fly back to the US. He left his truck for his mother, who was in the States settling her father's estate.
The hotel staff did identify a gringo in a green pickup truck as the one that had rented the room. However, at the time, they did not record the license plate number or even know the model of the vehicle.
As a result, Mexican police see a green truck, seize it, and claimed to have found Johnson's passport and ID. Having obtained those, they issues a warrant for his arrest.
Johnson, not knowing about the charges continued his life and later met Erica through her job. In 2007 they married
Johnson's wife, in a January 7, 2013 interview, stated that she believes her husband is innocent and was framed by Mexican authorities.
There seems to be conflicting accounts to the prosecution's case against Johnson though. Mexico Gulf Reporter claims that the courts in the United States had probably cause to extradite Johnson.
U.S. Magisterial District Judge Maureen P. Kelly issued a ruling Oct. 17, 2012 that there was sufficient evidence to recommend the extradition of Johnson to face the charges against him. The extradition was not based on any evidence, but on a low standard of probable cause, which was, "a ludicrous photo identification, being in the area, having a truck and perhaps having met the victim."
However, Tara Kinsell went on to point out:
In his writ of habeas corpus, Johnson raised several evidentiary issues regarding the case against him. Johnson said Rosales body was found fully clothed, including his belt, pants and underpants, which would undermine the probable cause standard that a rape occurred. He made note that the hotel where the body was found is noted as a setting for sexual trysts and witnesses said Rosales entered the hotel voluntarily with someone referred to as "the gringo." Johnson noted that three of the witnesses described the gringo as having blonde hair, although his hair is brown.
Johnson raised questions regarding the identification of a pickup truck, allegedly owned by Johnson, that brought Rosales to the hotel. He noted that the hotel routinely maintained a record of license plate numbers for vehicles but never presented documentation that proved the truck that brought Rosales to the hotel on the night of the murder matched the one on the truck owned by Johnson. He further went on to question the validity of witness identifications that were made utilizing a photo array that Johnson alleged was tainted. He claimed the array contained only one photograph of a man without facial hair and who was obviously the only "gringo," Johnson himself.
He further goes on to make mention of a statement given by Alfredo Mandoze Palacios, a man who allegedly drove Johnson to the bus station several days after the murder occurred. Palacios allegedly told police that Johnson acted normally and Palacios did not notice anything odd in his behavior leading up to the day he took him to the bus station. Johnson said staying in a small town, going to the usual places one goes, and acting normally does not suggest one is a murderer or rapist and indicates strong circumstantial evidence of his innocence. He alleged that he is not the person who accompanied Rosales to the hotel Sept. 7, 2003, and that there is sufficient evidence to the contrary for the court to rule against his extradition to Mexico.
I'd say that is enough to raise suspicions in the matter. According to a website set up by Johnson's family, they claim that there is no forensic evidence, no motive and no DNA evidence. In fact, they also state that the crime was described in contradictory ways:
Rape and strangulation with blood evidence
strangulation with no sign of sexual activity or other violence.
The site also says that in the first week that Johnson was extradited to Mexico, the rape charges had been dropped and that the aggravated murder charge had been reduced to simple homicide.
Additionally the site points out that six years after the crime, in 2009, police return to the hotel where the murder occurred with an array of photos: five Mexican men with facial hair and one gringo with no facial hair. The staff identifies the gringo, the only white, American male in the bunch. Yeah, something is rotten in Denmark, or should I say Mexico.
The family's website they reference the treaty agreed to by the U.S. and Mexico regarding extradition. "This treaty was agreed upon in 1978 and it does not require either country to surrender its own nationals. There is a 60 day window for an appeal to be filed but Dylan was extradited before the deadline so he was denied his writ of habeas corpus which is expressly referenced in Article 1 Section 9 of the Constitution of the United States of America. Dylan was not given time to even make a phone call and he was extradited with an expired passport. He wasn't able to contact his wife until a fellow inmate offered his cell phone in Mexico City. In extradition hearings, constitutional rights basically do not apply, hearsay is admissible, contradictory evidence is inadmissible and so is presentation of an alibi."
So far, the Obama State Department has done nothing to assist Johnson, but have simply turned him over to Mexican authorities. This should not surprise us as we have seen the corruption in that department now for quite a while. It is also notable that Johnson's mother says that her son is treated far better and is in better health in San Miguel than in the U.S. prison system.
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