In April of 1998, a pickup truck was found abandoned with it’s hazard lights switched on by police in Riverside County. The vehicle was along a remote area of Interstate 15, and the owner was nowhere to be found. After searching nearby areas, authorities discovered Terry Yvette Cheek’s body near a small lake. It was quickly determined that the victim was strangled to death.
Authorities quickly ascertained that the truck belonged to Cheek’s lover, Horace Roberts. They also discovered a wristwatch near the victim that appeared to belong to Roberts. Roberts and Cheek were found to be having a secret affair, so police immediately suspected Roberts of murdering her. He was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Now, after spending nearly 20 years of his life in prison, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office has fully exonerated Roberts with the use of DNA testing. In 1998, such testing was not available, but now police have two new suspects in Cheek’s murder. Roberts has been released from prison.
Police have instead arrested Cheek’s former husband, Googie Harris, and her nephew, Joaquin Leal. The two have both been charged with murder and are being detained in the Riverside County Jail. Bail has been set at $1 million. Prosecutors now believe that Roberts was setup by Cheek’s husband, Googie. It’s likely that Googie planted the false evidence (a wristwatch) at the scene of the murder to lead police to suspect Roberts. This theory became more apparent when researchers learned that Harris testified against Roberts during the original murder trials. Harris also appeared at Robert’s parole hearings to prevent his release from prison.