The criminal justice system in California is not perfect and much has been said recently in political campaigns and in the media about the need to reform the entire system. One reason behind these discussions is the fact that as DNA evidence and technology advances, people who have been convicted of crimes and spent significant amounts of time behind bars are being cleared for their crimes. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, this was the case for a man recently released from prison after spending 28 years for a crime he did not commit.
In October of 1991, law enforcement officials relied heavily on the eyewitness testimony of a nine-year-old boy to convict the man. Attorneys claims that the boy was coaxed into giving a story that fit the theory of officers and prosecutors. The boy was in the vehicle with the man the entire evening of the supposed crime and told police six different times that he had made the story up, but the testimony was still used as hard evidence to convict the man of killing another local man suspected of molesting children.
Soon after the conviction, another man admitted to the killing and truck tire marks and blood on his vehicle backed up his claim that he was the actual guilty party. It still took several decades before the man was freed because the state considered it as post-conviction evidence, which meant it had to glaringly prove innocence. State laws were loosened in 2017 and allowed for lawyers to argue that it would have more than likely altered the outcome.
While the release is good news for the man and his four daughters, he lost almost three decades of his life behind bars for a crime he did not commit. This is why it is so important to hire a criminal defense attorney who is qualified to defend the rights of the accused.