He confessed. He said he did it. He signed the papers, told the story, and took the blame. But what if it was all a mistake? What if this man was forced to confess to a drive-by shooting he knew nothing about? This is the claim of Daniel Villegas, a man who at 16-years-old took responsibility for a double homicide in the city of El Paso, TX. This confession would follow him for the rest of his life, imprisoning him at age 18, sparking a fight for justice across the city of El Paso, and culminating in a final trial 23 years after his initial guilty verdict. Journalist and Dateline correspondent Keith Morrison discovered this case in 2011 and for years he followed the story of those involved, constantly tracking down new interviews and information about what truly happened to Daniel Villegas. In the new two-hour special, Morrison brings this decades-long case to life – and to its dramatic conclusion – exploring the facts behind Villegas’s confession in his search for the truth. A FATAL CONFESSION: KEITH MORRISON INVESTIGATES premieres on Sunday, July 7th at 10/9ct, only on Investigation Discovery.
“At ID we have not only the opportunity – but, also, the mission – to share stories that otherwise might not be seen on a national platform,” says Henry Schleiff, Group President of Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel and Destination America. “Keith Morrison is an acclaimed investigative journalist who has told countless stories throughout his broadcast career and, accordingly, we are thrilled to have partnered with him in his efforts to bring the attention this case so justly deserves.”
Morrison said of the project, “The Daniel Villegas story proves that a caring and determined outsider facing the longest of odds can ignite a community, work to restore a future once lost, and inspire love along the way.”
When this all began, Villegas was known as a teen who had more of a reputation for mischief than malice. The community was shocked by the drive-by shooting of two teenagers with no gang affiliation. Then, Villegas was pulled in by law enforcement for questioning. He was interrogated by Detective Alfonso Marquez, and hours later, Marquez emerged with a signed confession from Daniel Villegas. But that same night, Villegas recanted the confession to a social worker. But at that point it was too late. Though he had an alibi, the confession remained the centerpiece of Villegas’ trial, and he was sentenced to life in prison.
Years later, business man John Mimbela hears about Daniel’s case and is determined to find the truth about what really happened that day. Taking on this case, Mimbela hires an experienced attorney and rallies the El Paso community. His efforts are rewarded when Daniel is granted a new trial in 2014. But even with all his hard work, will there be enough evidence to prove Daniel Villegas’s innocence? Or will Villegas’ conviction and life sentence for a crime he said he didn’t commit, continue to stand? Keith Morrison sits down with the key players in this narrative, from family members and law enforcement, to John Mimbela and Daniel Villegas himself. Using his years of experience as an investigative journalist, Morrison delivers a compelling and heart wrenching story that raises probing questions about crime, punishment and American justice.