One Minute Remaining subject exonerated after 26 years
One Minute Remaining (OMR) podcast subject Evaristo Salas Jnr has been cleared of wrongdoing 26 years after being convicted of murder.
Evaristo was convicted of murder at 16 years old, spending 26 years in prison for a crime he swore he didn’t commit.
He was arrested in connection with the murder of a man named Jose Arreola – police claimed that Junior had shot Jose twice in the head while he sat in his parked car.
When OMR creator Jack Laurence heard about Evaristo’s story on the Stan series Wrong Man, he began looking into the case himself.
“I first came across Junior’s story one night while researching for my podcast One Minute Remaining ‘Stories from the inmates’,” said Jack.
“As the Wrong Man team laid out the case against Evaristo, they started to uncover some incredible issues.”
The series revealed hard evidence that Junior’s 1996 trial was a blatant farce.
The car the murder took place in was sold by the victim’s partner before it could be examined and Evaristo was picked out in a line-up after the witness had allegedly undergone hypnosis – which is illegal in the U.S.
Another piece of evidence came from a man claiming Evaristo had bragged about the killing.
This informant had been brought forward by the lead detective in the case, Jim Rivard.
Detective Rivard would say that this informant was one of his ‘best guys’, who would always bring him solid information, and it was this same informant’s claim that got Evaristo arrested in the first place.
The Wrong Man series tracked down the informant to see if there was truth to the claim, then he dropped the bombshell that the information he provided was totally fabricated.
Not only was the information fabricated, but it was fabricated by Detective Jim Rivard.
“As you can imagine while watching this show with all of this incredible information being presented, I was in shock, my jaw was on the floor, I was waiting for the next episode that would tell me that Jnr had been released and was final living his life on the outside and well, it never came,” Jack said.
“The show ended and that was it.”
“I immediately tracked him down and reached out to see if he would be willing to come on my podcast and let me also tell his story, I wasn’t sure what reception I would get as it would seem the last time he got involved with a show nothing would come of it, however, that’s not the response I got, I was met with gratitude and warmth from a man who grew up in a harsh and unforgiving environment.”
“A man who seemed so incredibly calm and at peace with his situation.”
“Jnr and I would spend the next few months talking on the phone, him telling me about his life, the day he was arrested and his subsequent incarceration.”
Jack and Evaristo built a relationship and spent time talking about the trials and tribulations of prison life, which would form the basis for Jack’s One Minute Remaining investigation.
Not only did Jack and Evaristo talk about prison life, but Evaristo also often spoke about his dreams outside of prison – holding hope that the scales would balance and justice would be served.
“Good news came from Jnr one day when he called me to say that finally the high court of appeals agreed that his case, with this new evidence, would need to be looked at,” said Jack.
“So, a date was set for his evidentiary hearing where the witnesses from his original trial would all be subpoenaed to testify yet again, Ofelia Gonzales, the informant and Detective Rivard.”
“Junior told me the best we could hope for is that once all the evidence had been heard the judges would rule to overturn the conviction and order a new trial and this is all he wanted.”
A closed hearing was set for Monday 14th August 2023.
Evaristo’s sister Debbie kept Jack updated on the proceedings, remaining cautious.
“On Friday 18th August I woke up at 6:30am to four missed calls from Debbie, I felt sick, why has she tried to call me so many times? I quickly ran to my office, fired up my studio and dialed,” Jack said.
“Hi, Debbie, it’s Jack, is everything ok?” Jack asked.
“He’s been fully exonerated, we are on our way to the prison to get him now,” Debbie replied.
Justice had finally been served.
“After almost thirty years of imprisonment, growing up in a violent and harsh world, Evaristo Salas Jnr was being released from prison immediately and I look forward to sitting face to face with my friend very soon,” Jack said.
The story of Evaristo Salas Jnr can be heard on the One Minute Remaining Podcast here.