From ABC7 — December 5, 2023
A member of the Mexican Mafia who was sentenced to death in 1981 for the killing of a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy will remain in prison, a Los Angeles superior court judge ruled Tuesday morning.
Jesse Gonzalez killed Deputy Jack Williams in 1979 while Williams and others were serving a search warrant for drugs at a home in La Puente.
The issue before the court Tuesday was whether a Brady violation had occurred – whether material evidence had been withheld from the defense at the time of the trial and penalty phase. Williams’ daughters feared Gonzalez would be set free if a judge found that the DA’s office failed to turn over evidence.
However, the judge ruled that no Brady violation had occurred.
Following the decision, Sheriff Robert Luna and other members of the department were seen hugging.
Gonzalez was found guilty of 1st degree murder with the special circumstance of killing a peace officer. He was sentenced to death.
Gonzalez has never denied killing Williams, but claims he believed the officers, who were were plain clothed but wearing badges, were members of a rival gang coming to kill him.
The death penalty hinged on the jury finding that Gonzalez intended to kill a police officer. At the time, the Los Angeles DA’s office pointed to what Gonzalez told a detective hours after the killing — that “suddenly, he saw the cops coming.” Gonzalez quickly changed his story and said, no he didn’t actually say that.
Months later, jailhouse informant William Acker contacted LASD detectives to say Gonzalez had confessed to him days after Acker happened to be placed in a jail cell right next to Gonzalez. Acker told detectives that Gonzalez admitted he knew they were police and that he wanted to “bag a cop.”
But the defense says the DA’s office hid additional evidence that painted Acker out to be even less credible.
Mark Overland, Gonzalez’s defense attorney, said his client deserves to be set free and that the jailhouse confession was fabricated. He also claims Acker would’ve said anything to save his own skin.