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California woman who spent 32 years in prison finally freed

Many of our readers, at one time or another, may have considered what it would be like to be wrongfully convicted. Although most people have faith in the justice system, we all know that mistakes can be made. But these mistakes often lead to lengthy prison sentences for people who should otherwise be free. This was the case for a 74-year-old California woman who is grateful that her own wrongful conviction is finally over.

Some of our Livermore readers may have already heard the good news out of Los Angeles where a judge ordered the release of the 74-year-old woman after she served 32 years in prison for a first-degree murder conviction from 1981. Although her case had been appealed many times since 1981, always pointing out the fact that she had been forced at gunpoint to participate in the murder and had suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her then boyfriend who was also convicted of murder, this fact was always overlooked.

But students in USC Law School’s Post-Conviction Justice Project took up the woman’s case recently and were finally able to highlight this fact to a judge. The previous murder convictions were finally dismissed this month after the woman pleaded no contest to the charges against her. Because she had already spent 32 years in prison, the judge decided that her plea of no contest would come with no prison sentence nor would she have to serve probation either.

Although the woman is relieved to finally have justice served, she is likely aware of the long road ahead of her that will include reconnecting with her son who she has not seen in 30 years and getting her life back together. But with the immense support from family and friends, her struggles may be lessened.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, “Woman freed after serving 32 years of life term in 1981 killing,” Corina Knoll and Francine Orr, March 25, 2014

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