Brea to pay $700,000 to man wrongly accused of killing mother, brother
The city of Brea has agreed to pay a $700,000 to a man wrongly arrested on suspicion of his mother’s and brother’s killings in 2011 and jailed for four months until the deaths were linked to an alleged serial killer.
Eder Herrera sued after he was arrested and charged with the stabbing deaths of his mother, 53-year-old Raquel Estrada, and brother Juan Herrera, 34, until evidence at the scene linked their slayings to Itzcoatl Ocampo, a former Marine who was also linked to the stabbing deaths of four homeless men.
On Tuesday, Brea agreed to a $700,000 judgment, Brea police Lt. Darrin Devereux said.
The judgment “eliminates the risk” of an expensive trial, damages and attorney fees for the city, he said. Brea did not admit liability, Devereux said.
In an interview following the judgment, Herrera’s attorney, John Burton, called detectives’ work in the case “sloppy.”
“They were so sure from the outset they had the right guy, they didn’t entertain the evidence that led away from him,” Burton said. “If they’d gotten the right guy, [Ocampo] wouldn’t have killed four other people.”
Herrera was best friends with Ocampo in high school and kept in contact after Ocampo returned from the Marines, Burton said. But Ocampo was a changed man -- he was paranoid and Herrera urged him to seek help, Burton said.
The advice fractured the friendship and led to Ocampo going to Herrera’s house to kill him and his family, Burton said.
“There was no rationality for what he did,” Burton said.
But Herrera was at a friend’s house the night of the slayings. His family is suspected of being Ocampo’s first two victims. Herrera now lives with his uncles in Riverside, Burton said.
Ocampo was taken into custody by police four months later after bystanders chased him into a Carl’s Jr. parking lot. He was later tied to the killings of Herrera’s mother and brother. Ocampo died in 2013 after drinking a household cleaner while in custody.
Herrera was freed after DNA linked Ocampo to the killings.
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