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Man wrongly imprisoned for decades due to 1983 murder is declared innocent

Tom Wood

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| Last updated 

Man wrongly imprisoned for decades due to 1983 murder is declared innocent

Featured Image Credit: Fox11 Los Angeles

A man who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of a woman in 1983 has been declared ‘factually innocent’ by a judge.

Maurice Hastings spent more than 38 years incarcerated for a murder that he did not commit, and he’s professed his innocence constantly since his sentence was passed.

Now, he’s been vindicated after a judge in Los Angeles ruled that he did not commit the crime.

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Hastings was actually released last year and - now 69-years-old - wants to get on with what remains of his life, but can also seek possible relief after his wrongful conviction should he want to.

He’d repeatedly been denied the opportunity to prove his innocence, including a request in 2000 to have DNA taken.

Maurice Hastings. Credit: Fox11 Los Angeles
Maurice Hastings. Credit: Fox11 Los Angeles

Hastings was convicted of the 1983 murder of Roberta Wydermyer, who was sexually assaulted and shot dead before her body was found in the trunk of her car in Inglewood, not far from Los Angeles.

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Hastings was convicted of special circumstances murder, with the district attorney’s office seeking for him to receive the death penalty.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen.

He was instead given a life sentence with no possibility of parole in 1988, despite the fact that he has always maintained his innocence.

In 2021, the DNA test that was denied to him back in 2000 discovered that semen that was swabbed from the victim at her autopsy was not his, meaning that he could not have committed the crime.

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In fact, the DNA profile was run through a state database and revealed a match with another person who was convicted of armed kidnapping and forced copulation of a female victim, who was then put into the trunk of a car.

Kenneth Packnett, the suspect in question, died in prison back in 2020.

Hastings was released back in October, but his team asked the judge to take the extra step of declaring him innocent of the crime too.

The crowd applauded after the judge made his announcement. Credit: Fox11 Los Angeles
The crowd applauded after the judge made his announcement. Credit: Fox11 Los Angeles
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The declaration that he is ‘factually innocent’ means that he has been conclusively proven not to have committed the crime.

District Attorney George Gascón said Hastings had ‘survived a nightmare’.

In a statement, he said: “He spent nearly four decades in prison exhausting every avenue to prove his innocence while being repeatedly denied.

"But Mr Hastings has remained steadfast and faithful that one day he would hear a judge proclaim his innocence."

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Now, Hastings wants to use what time he has left enjoying himself, claiming that he is not ‘bitter’ about what has happened to him.

"I am not standing up here a bitter man, but I just want to enjoy my life now while I have it," he said.

Topics: News, US News, Crime

Tom Wood
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