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Wrong Man Held 3 Weeks as the Suspect in a Slaying

The attorney for a man who was mistakenly jailed for three weeks in connection with a 1982 kiling said Tuesday that his client described the ordeal as a “nightmare.”

Miguel Auclair Valdez said his client, Miguel A. Rodriguez, was “shocked when it originally happened. It was his worst nightmare. He had never been to San Diego. He was just sitting in a car drinking a beer. He was shocked and, on top of that, to learn that it was for a homicide was just terrifying.”

Rodriguez was arrested by Los Angeles police on March 5 and brought to San Diego on an arrest warrant for another man with the same name who was sought in connection with the stabbing death of Juan Sandoval Hernandez in 1982.

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Deputy Dist. Atty. Barry J. Carlton, said it was determined that Rodriguez was not the suspect after witnesses compared a passport photo of the suspect they had previously identified with the booking photo of Rodriguez.

“These people, who knew (the suspect) pretty well, still said ‘yes, this is him, but this other picture is somebody else,’ ” Carlton said.

“They looked enough alike to me that I couldn’t say they were different people. They didn’t look like twins or anything, but considering the lapse of time, they could very well have been the same person. But I didn’t want to make an immediate judgment on my own. When I got that information, we had no interest in keeping an innocent guy in jail,” Carlton said.

But Valdez said that because of the time spent in jail, Rodriguez lost his job as a construction worker. With a little more effort on the part of authorities, they would have found out sooner that they had arrested the wrong man, he said.

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“An exit visa from Salvador was granted to Rodriguez in July, 1983,” Valdez said. The murder of Hernandez took place in August, 1982.


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