Manuel Ortiz has been on death row at Angola, Louisiana’s State Penitentiary, for almost 17 years. Manuel, originally from El Salvador, was convicted in 1994 of hiring someone to kill his wife, Tracie Williams, and of the murder of Tracie’s friend, Cheryl Mallory.
Manuel’s legal team believes Manuel is innocent of these crimes. The case against him was riddled with inconsistencies, plagued by prosecutorial double dealing and built upon the testimony of a man who later confessed to the crime.
In April 2010, after a long-running hearing before Judge Jerome Winsberg, his lawyers concluded their presentation of evidence of Manuel’s innocence and of prosecutorial misconduct committed in the original trial. Manuel is still waiting for the judge’s decision.
Manuel’s hope is for a new trial in which he has a chance to present all the evidence. His legal team is confident that in a fair trial a jury will find him not guilty.
On this site you’ll find information about Manuel’s case and ways in which you can help. We will provide updates as soon as they are available, including, if necessary, other avenues of action.
Matters of innocence
Manuel’s case involves both prosecutorial misconduct and actual innocence. Unfortunately, the US court system has shown a marked lack of interest in cases involving actual innocence. Indeed, in the words of one of the current Supreme Court incumbents:
One of the many problems with this astounding point of view is that the standards for judging what constitutes a “full and fair trial” are excruciatingly low.
We think innocence matters. If you do, too, we are sure you’ll want to see justice for Manuel Ortiz.