Washington Man Released After a Decade in Prison

Serving a lengthy prison sentence can be life changing. For someone convicted of a crime that results in extensive time behind bars, the moments and milestones missed while being locked up can never be regained.

Jail time is even more devastating for someone who was wrongfully convicted. According to the Yakima Herald, a 30-year-old Seattle, Washington, man was recently released from prison after serving 10 years for a crime he did not commit. The incident leading to the arrest involved the man's sister, and her boyfriend, who claimed eight men broke into his house, "pistol-whipped" him, and beat him for over 10 minutes, until he went unconscious.

The victim explained to the police that he observed "feather" facial tattoos on the attackers. A photo montage was provided, from which the victim selected the man as one of the attackers, despite the fact that he had no facial tattoo. Despite the additional fact that the man had an alibi, explaining that he was not at the scene of the accident, the police charged the man with burglary and robbery. He was sentenced to over 16 years in prison by a King County, Washington, jury, solely on the basis of eyewitness testimony.

Not until legal counsel and the assistance of a group seeking to provide assistance to those who are wrongfully convicted sought out new evidence on the case were the tables turned for the man. Three of the assailants present at the attack were contacted, and provided sworn statements indicating that they were involved, and that the man who was in prison, was not involved. The statements were offered to the Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor who reviewed the new evidence and followed-up with independent interviews with witnesses to the crime. The King County Prosecuting Attorney explained that the statements from those who participated in the crime "cast enough doubts" as to the man's involvement in the crime, that the interests of justice required that the charges against him should be dismissed, and the conviction vacated. He further expressed his belied that prosecutors have "an ongoing duty to receive and consider new evidence in a case, even after a jury's verdict."

Just prior to Christmas, after serving 10 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, the man was released, and was able to reunite with his wife.

The Yakima Herald article indicates that the group who worked with the man to prove his innocence claims that, "eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions," playing a role in nearly "75 percent of the convictions overturned through DNA testing."

According to a new state law, those who are wrongfully convicted can file a claim against the state, for damages related to their wrongful conviction. While no amount of money can repair the emotional and mental damage suffered by an innocent person in prison, the law makes it possible for someone to receive up to $50,000 for each year of imprisonment and time awaiting trial, as well as child support and up to $75,000 toward attorney's fees.

If you have been convicted of a crime, the assistance of an experienced criminal law attorney can make all the difference in your case.