California Man Exonerated After 25 Years in Prison for Wrongful Murder Conviction

Miguel Solorio, 44

Miguel Solorio, a 44-year-old California man, has been exonerated and ordered released from prison after serving 25 years for a murder he did not commit. Superior Court Judge William Ryan overturned Solorio’s conviction during a court hearing in Los Angeles, where Solorio attended remotely.

Arrested in 1998 for a fatal drive-by shooting in Whittier, southeast of Los Angeles, Solorio was originally sentenced to life without parole. However, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office recently concluded that he is entitled to release, as stated in a letter last month.

The Northern California Innocence Project, which represented Solorio, argued that his conviction was largely based on flawed eyewitness identification methods. Initially, four eyewitnesses did not identify Solorio as the suspect, with some indicating another person. Despite this, law enforcement persisted in presenting Solorio’s photos to the witnesses, leading to eventual misidentification.

Sarah Pace, an attorney with the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University School of Law, criticized the law enforcement approach in this case, pointing out that their focus on Solorio disregarded other evidence and potential suspects. She emphasized the impact of “tunnel vision” in such investigations.

The district attorney’s letter highlighted a new scientific consensus, established in 2020, that states a witness’s memory for a suspect should only be tested once to prevent contamination of their memory.

Solorio expressed his gratitude to his legal team, referring to them as his “dream team,” and described his release as akin to a dream he didn’t want to wake up from. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has a maximum of five days to process his release from Mule Creek State Prison southeast of Sacramento.

Chris Morris
Author: Chris Morris

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