Imagine being locked up in jail for a crime you didn't commit. A Bakersfield man wrongly accused of kidnap and rape, is now free after new DNA evidence cleared him of the crime.
About two months ago, police asked for your helping finding a man wanted for dragging a woman into a bathroom at Martin Luther King Park and raping her. Three days later, police arrested 20-year-old Mike Zarate Jacobo. But, DNA tests later revealed officers had the wrong guy.
On March 16th, a woman told police she was walking through the park in east Bakersfield when a man approached her from behind, grabbed her and dragged her into a public restroom and sexually assaulted her.
Police released a sketch of the man they were looking for and tips started pouring in. One of them was about Jacobo. Officers called the victim in to look at a photo lineup that included Jacobo and five other men. The victim pointed to Jacobo.
"The cops came in and turned our house upside down, and then later the detective came and we asked why he was arrested. At the moment he didn't say anything, nothing, not even why they were searching our house," said Marisela Zarate, Jacobo's mother.
After Jacobo was taken into custody, he tried to clear his name. "That's when they started saying why did I do this to this person? I was like, I don't know what you are talking about," said Jacobo.
Jacobo was locked up and his mother learned her son was accused of raping a woman and could spend 25 years to life in prison. "When they told me, it was a desperate feeling. I was in shock. I started crying," she said.
After more than a month in jail, Jacobo got the news that DNA evidence had matched the crime to another man. The District Attorney's office put a rush on the evidence after learning police may have arrested the wrong man.
"I don't know why she pointed me out on the lineup," said Jacobo.
In this case, the victim's selection wasn't right. The real guy wasn't in the lineup.
Attorney Benjamin Greene represents Jacobo and his family. "She was mistaken. There's another person who obviously bears some resemblance to Mr. Jacobo, but it wasn't him. But, it shows sometimes eyewitness testimony can be mistaken," said Greene.
"When they told us the DNA cleared him, we were really happy that our son was not labeled as a rapist," said Zarate.
"I just got too happy and I still I couldn't talk. I was speechless. I was so happy," explained Jacobo.
After Jacobo was released from custody, police arrested 18-year-old Anthony Rodriguez who was on probation. Police say DNA evidence links him to the crime.