Man freed after 33 years in jail for murder he didn't commit
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A California man was freed after spending 33 years in jail for attempted murder charges that turned out to be false.
After a shooting which took place in 1989, Daniel Saldana was convicted on six charges of attempted murder and was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
He was believed to be one of the three men convicted of shooting at a car of six high school students who were mistaken for gang members in Baldwin Park, California, on October 27, 1989.
All six students survived, while two were wounded.
Saldana has always pleaded his innocence.
However, in late February (2023), the district attorney’s office said it was given a copy of a 2017 parole hearing, which changed everything.
A gang member said Saldana 'was not involved in the shooting in any way and was not present'.
After the Los Angeles County District Attorney investigated the claims, they concluded that 'Saldana was innocent of the crimes he was convicted of and for which he spent over 33 years in prison'.
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón called it a 'failure of our justice system'.
“As prosecutors, our duty is not simply to secure convictions but to seek justice. When someone is wrongfully convicted, it is a failure of our justice system and it is our responsibility to right that wrong. We owe it to the individual who was wrongfully convicted and to the public that justice is served,” District Attorney Gascón said.
Saldana told reporters at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles that he 'never lost hope'.
On Thursday (25 May), he said: “It’s a struggle, every day waking up knowing you’re innocent and here I am locked up in a cell, crying for help.
“I’m just so happy this day came.”
Saldana’s attorney, Mike Romano, added: “Today, I want to thank the District Attorney’s Office, the Conviction Integrity Unit and law enforcement for their hard work and dedication in seeking out the truth about what really happened more than three decades ago.
“It is disappointing to know that a deputy district attorney was privy to this information over six years ago at a parole hearing but failed to bring it to light.
“But we thank the CDCR for bringing this information to the District Attorney’s attention in February of this year.
“We must all work together to help people like Mr. Saldana who are spending their precious years behind bars for an act they did not commit.”