MARIO FLORES was a teenager
with a promising future: A talented Athlete in both soccer
and diving. He attained national recognition as a high school diver and he received a string
of scholarship offers from some of the best universities in the country. But in November 1984, shortly after he graduated from high school, Mario and three other teenagers were arrested in connection with a fatal shooting that took place during a traffic accident dispute on New Year's Eve, 1983-84.
Mario has always maintained his innocence, and during the gruelling 19-hour police interrogation he informed police that he was at a New Year's Eve party at the time of the offense and that several witnesses could verify it.
No physical evidnece has ever directly linked Mario to the commission of the offense. And the proseuction's case was builtsolely upon the testimony of witnesses who not only waited over eleven months to come forward, but did so at a time when theywere facing criminal charges and needed help from the State's Attorney Office. So, without ever knowing about Mario's viable alibi defense, it took the jury only 70 minutes to convicty him of capital murder, and three hours to conclude that he was not worthy of life.
According to the prosecution, Mario and two companions were on their way home from a party around 2:00 a.m. when they witnessed a fierce traffic accident. They pulled over to help. As they watched both drivers--a maile and a young female--engaged in a serious argument over the collision, the male driver began intimidating the female driver, and threatened to shoot her. Mario, allegedly, got mad and decided to intervene in her defense. The male driver became infuriated, and identified himself as a member of a notorious street gang and walked to his car to retrieve a gun with which to shoot Mario. Presumably next, Mario and his companions lured the male driver to an alley where, allegedly, Mario shot him several times, and one of his companions took a necklace from the deceased after the shooting.
Based upon these allegations,the prosecution charged Mario and his alleged co-conspirators with murder during the course of an armed robbery, a capital offense. The co-conspirators testified againstMario in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Mario continuesto deny any involvement whatsover in the offense and underscoresthe fact that the named co-conspirators were in possession of his car that night. (In 1996, one of the co-conspirators came forward to exhonerate Mario, proclaiming that Mario had no involvement in this incident).
In spite of the agony
of 14 years in prison while awaiting execution, and the emotional ups and
downs of legal proceedings--which is the emotional equivalent of death--Mario
has maintained a good disciplinary prison record, and he has managed to become a licensed Lawyer's Assistant. And, today, his is becoming a celebrated artist with internatinal recognition:
At times, the invisible
spectre of death, at a distance ofdrowning a man
in despair, motivates the spirit: such isthe artistic expression of the
Mexican (artist) Mario Flores Urban (who is) sentenced to suffer the death
penalty in a U.S. prison. . .
La Jornada (Newspaper)
Sec. A, p. 49, December 5, 1997
Mario is currently on
death row at the Pontiac Correctional Center in Pontiac, Illinois. He has
exhausted all of his state remedies, and he is currently appealing his
conviction and death sentence in the U.S. District Court. Some of the major
contentions raised throughout his appeals consist of inadequate representation
at trial, proseuctorial misconduct, and racial discriminatin: The three
most pervasive legal anomalies found in
the cases of wrongfully convicted innocent persons.
( PROVIDED BY THE CAMPAIGN FOR THE RELEASE OF MARIO FLORES).
The images below were deleted by NBCi in April 2001
Mario Flores (N62349)
Pontiac Correctional Center
Pontiac, IL 61764
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