Men freed after 17 years in jail for crime they didn't commit will get $140 for each day behind bars
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Two men, who were freed after serving 17 years in jail for a crime they didn’t commit, will be paid $140 for each day they spent behind bars.
Dupree Glass, 36 and Juan Rayford, 37, have been declared innocent after they were freed in 2020 following a retrial, in which the man who actually committed the crime, Chad Brandon McZeal confessed. The gang member is currently serving a life sentence for murder in an unrelated case.
Glass and Rayford were 17 and 18 years old respectively when they were arrested after a 2004 shooting, which left two teenagers injured.
They both maintained they were not involved in the shooting. They were convicted of 11 counts of attempted murder and sentenced to 11 consecutive life sentences. Before being given their sentences, Glass and Rayford had no criminal history.
Their defence lawyer, Annee Della Donna, told The Associated Press that the trial against them in 2004 ‘never should have been brought in the first place’.
“There was no evidence tying them to the shooting. Zero,’ the lawyer said.
Their convictions rested on the testimony of only two witnesses, who later recanted their stories. Della Donna said a five-year investigation by defence investigators found numerous witnesses who said, “Oh no, they weren’t the shooters, they never had a gun.”
Following the new trial, which took place in Los Angeles, Glass and Rayford are entitled to compensation under a new law in the state of California. They must be paid $140 (£112) for each day they spent behind bars, which will add up to about $900,000 (£725,000).
Both men now work as drivers for Walmart and are fathers to baby girls. Rayford is still in a relationship with his high school sweetheart, who waited for him while he was incarcerated.
On Thursday (20 April), the two men were declared innocent by a California judge, marking the end of the new trial in October after a state appeals court panel vacated their convictions.
The men were hugged as their family, friends and supporters cheered for them outside the courthouse.
“I thought about this day for so long. I thought about it when I was locked up for 17 years,” Rayford said outside the courthouse. “I thought about it for my last two years being free. I waited for this day because, you know, I knew I was innocent of every crime they said I committed.”