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Second-degree murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree attempted murder


Length of Sentence:

Life without parole


Conviction Date:

October 19, 1998


Exoneration Date:


Causes of Wrongful Conviction:

False testimony, prosecutorial misconduct


On August 11, 1994, a young man was murdered on Mau'i in an apparent drug deal robbery. The only suspect at the time of the crime was Michael Freitas, who had been seen by multiple witnesses driving with the victim toward the area where he was shortly after murdered. Additionally, friends and family of the victim all stated that Michael had agreed to set up a drug deal on the day of the crime so that the victim could purchase 1 pound of marijuana. When confronted with eye witness testimony and physical evidence of his presence at the scene of the crime, Michael Freitas then implicated Gordon Cordeiro as the dealer and murderer. By all accounts, Gordon and Michael only knew of each other and had never hung out together, although they did have some friends in common, one of which was the victim. 
Despite Michael’s claims that Gordon was the killer, Gordon had an alibi for the entire day of the crime – he was building a shelving unit in his parent’s garage. Gordon’s alibi was corroborated by multiple sources – friends and passers-by who had seen Gordon working in the garage, receipts where he purchased supplies, as well as his bed-ridden mother whom Gordon was tasked to take care of while his dad and sisters were at work. Despite Gordon’s alibi, the lack of physical evidence, and the fact that the only suspect, Michael Freitas, had great incentive to implicate anyone but himself in the crime, the Prosecutor charged Gordon with robbery and murder.
Gordon’s first trial ended in a hung jury – 11 to 1 – with 11 jurors believing Gordon was not guilty. In advance of Gordon’s second trial, jailhouse informants, in an effort to lessen their own sentences, implicated Gordon in an elaborate series of plots to murder the only witness Michael Freitas. Despite the overwhelming lack of evidence indicating that Gordon had in any way plotted to kill Michael, the Prosecutor added additional attempted murder charges in advance of Gordon’s second trial. At Gordon’s second trial, largely due to the multiple additional charges of attempted murder of Michael, Gordon was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
After exhausting all of his direct appeals, Gordon’s family sought the help of HIP to exonerate their son and finally prove his innocence. HIP has conducted multiple interviews of witnesses and suspects, and HIP has conducted additional DNA testing on multiple items from the crime scene. HIP has found new evidence that shows that Gordon was not present anywhere at the crime scene, nor did Gordon hire any inmates to murder Michael. Additionally, HIP has obtained DNA samples from potential suspects in the crime to compare against DNA found at the crime scene. With additional DNA testing, HIP believes that we will find enough new evidence to prove Gordon’s innocence and also show the real perpetrator of the crime.
Gordon has served over 27 years of his life sentence for a crime he did not commit. Help us free Gordon by donating to the Hawai'i Innocence Project today.  

by donating to his case today.

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