A Los Angeles man who spent more than 32 years behind bars was released on Thursday after a judge vacated his murder conviction late Wednesday.
Andrew Wilson, a client of Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent, was convicted of stabbing to death a 21-year-old man who was sleeping in his truck with his girlfriend in 1984. Wilson maintains he had nothing to do with the incident.
According to Wilson’s attorneys, key pieces of evidence were never turned over to the defense during trial. The victim’s girlfriend, Saladena Bishop, selected Wilson’s photo from a lineup only after an officer pointed to Wilson’s photo and asked, “What about him?” Police later deemed Saladena an unreliable witness after she filed a police report falsely accusing another man of kidnapping and attempted rape. Also, a friend of the victim told the trial prosecutor, Laura Aalto, that Saladena had stabbed the victim in the past and was likely the perpetrator.
Superior Court Judge Laura F. Priver ruled Wednesday that, by withholding this evidence, Aalto deprived Wilson of his constitutional right to a fair trial and ordered him released from prison as soon as possible. A hearing is scheduled for May 3 to decide Wilson’s factual innocence, which will determine whether he is compensated by the state for the more than three decades he spent behind bars. The district attorney’s office, however, has already announced that it doesn’t intend to reprosecute Wilson.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Wilson plans to move to St. Louis to be with his 96-year-old mother, Margie Davis, who has been a tireless advocate for his exoneration since his arrest.
“I knew that he was innocent all along,” Davis told the Times. “It’s no news to me. He is an honest person — I knew he wouldn’t lie.”
Read the Los Angeles Times coverage here.
Read the Los Angeles Daily News coverage here.