Who is Benjamin LaGuer?

For more than 25 years Benjamin LaGuer, an Afro-Puerto Rican Ben Laguerman, has been a Massachusetts inmate, wrongfully imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. At the age of 20, just home from the Army, LaGuer had the misfortune of staying in an apartment in Leominster, MA, next door to a brutal attack on an elderly woman. In a rush to judgment police arrested LaGuer, overlooking a likelier suspect, a man with a history of sexual misconduct and who was charged with similar rape years later. LaGuer’s trial was rife with irregularities, including a report from a juror that members of the all-white, all-male panel made racial slurs that attributed LaGuer’s alleged guilt to his ethnicity.

In 2002, LaGuer raised $30,000 from supporters, including President Emeritus John Silber of Boston University and Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, to pay for a DNA test that LaGuer believed could clear his name of this crime that had taken place nineteen years earlier. The test backfired for LaGuer when a trace amount of his DNA appeared in the results. But, in the process of fighting for the DNA test, one of LaGuer’s lawyers, using the Freedom of Information Act, uncovered his original Leominster Police Department file. Documents in the file showed that police illegally seized items from LaGuer’s apartment that later were commingled with crime scene evidence. Several DNA experts from around the country have now reviewed documents associated with the case together with the testing procedures used in LaGuer’s DNA test. They conclude that the DNA test was botched and that contamination erroneously linked LaGuer to the crime.

Now, at the age of 45, LaGuer is still fighting for his freedom. A model prisoner, LaGuer was offered a plea bargain in 1984 that he refused and has three times now been offered release by the Parole Board with the condition that LaGuer admit to this crime that he did not commit. But LaGuer continues to refuse parole under any such conditions, preferring to remain in prison than be released without justice.

Raised in a religious family, LaGuer has often said, “Over the body of my father, I cannot lie. I did not do this crime.” In 2006, after hearing that once more his motion for a new trial had been denied, LaGuer said, “I’m going to be optimistic till the day that I die, that I will one day get a fair trial.”

New revelations about this gross miscarriage of justice have recently emerged, adding to a long list of shocking indications that LaGuer’s trial was tragically flawed and that his claims to actual innocence have merit. For more information read: