A man has been found not guilty of attempted murder after serving 33 years in a California prison
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California man who spent 33 years in prison for attempted murder has been found not guilty and freed, the Los Angeles district attorney announced Thursday.
Daniel Saldana, 55, was convicted in 1990 of opening fire on a car carrying six teenagers leaving a high school football game in Baldwin Park east of Los Angeles. Two students were injured but survived.
According to authorities, the attackers mistook the teenagers for gang members.
At the time of filming, Saldana was 22 years old and worked as a full-time construction worker. He was one of three people charged in the attack. Convicted of six counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting at a carjacked vehicle, Saldana was sentenced to 45 years to life in state prison.
Saldana appeared with District Attorney George Gascon at a press conference announcing his release Thursday. He said he was grateful for the release.
“It’s a struggle to wake up every day knowing you’re innocent and I’m here locked in a cell screaming for help,” Saldana said, according to the Southern California News Group.
“I’m so happy that this day has come,” he added.
Gascon’s office opened the investigation after learning in February that another convicted felon told authorities during a 2017 parole hearing that Saldana “was in no way involved in the shooting or was present during the incident,” the prosecutor said. .
The former deputy district attorney attended the hearing “but apparently did nothing” and did not share exculpatory information with Saldana or his attorney as required, Gascon said.
That led to Saldana spending an additional six years in prison before prosecutors reopened the case and found him not guilty, Gascon said.
The district attorney would not release other details of the case, but apologized to Saldana and his family.
“I know it won’t give you back the decades you spent in prison,” he said. “But I hope our apology will bring you some comfort as you start your new life.”
Gascon added: “It’s not only a tragedy to put people in prison for a crime they didn’t commit, but whenever there’s an injustice of this magnitude, the real people responsible for other crimes are still out there.”
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