A man unjustly convicted of murder has been released after nearly 40 years in prison

A man unjustly convicted of murder has been released after nearly 40 years in prison


A man who spent more than 38 years behind bars for a 1983 murder and two attempted murders has been released from a California prison after long-unverified DNA evidence pointed to another man, This was announced by the District Attorney of Los Angeles Friday.

Maurice Hastings, 69, had his conviction and life sentence overturned during an Oct. 20 court hearing at the request of prosecutors and his attorneys from the Los Angeles Innocence Project at Cal State University, Los Angeles.

“I’ve been praying for years for this day to come,” Hastings said at a news conference Friday, adding, “I’m not pointing fingers; I’m not becoming a bitter person here, but I just want to enjoy my life now while I have it.”

DNA conviction overturned
In this photo provided by the State of Los Angeles, Maurice Hastings smiles at a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court where a judge dismissed his murder charge after new DNA evidence exonerated him, on Oct. 20, 2022, in Los Angeles.

H. Emilio Flores / AP

“We no longer have any confidence in the truth of the case against Mr. Hastings,” said District Attorney George Gascon, who noted that Hastings has consistently maintained his innocence over the years. “You are a free man today because of your stubbornness.”

“The system failed you,” said Gascon, translated CBS Los Angeles. “The system failed the victims.”

The victim in the case, Roberta Wiedermeier, was sexually assaulted and killed with a single gunshot to the head, authorities said. Her body was found in the trunk of her car in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood.

Hastings was charged with aggravated murder, and the district attorney’s office sought the death penalty, but the jury deadlocked. A second jury found him guilty, and in 1988 he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Hastings has maintained his innocence since his arrest.

During the victim’s autopsy, the coroner performed a sexual assault examination, and sperm was found in an oral swab, the district attorney said in a statement.

In 2000, Hastings sought a DNA test, but prosecutors at the time denied that request. Hastings entered a plea of ​​not guilty to the Department of Corrections last year, and a DNA test last June revealed the sperm was not his.

A DNA profile was entered into a state database this month and was matched to a man who was convicted of an armed kidnapping in which the female victim was placed in the trunk of a car and forced to perform oral sex on the woman.

The real killer, whose name has not been released, died in 2020 while serving time in prison for a separate kidnapping and rape case, CBS Los Angeles reports.

The district attorney’s office said it is working with police to further investigate the deceased’s involvement in the case.