A judge in Los Angeles on Sunday acquitted Maurice Hastings (pictured on Oct. 20, 2022), who was wrongly convicted of robbery-murder and sexual assault committed by another person in 1983. The now 69-year-old Hastings was released from prison last October after 38 years, but only now has the court officially declared him innocent and apologized to him, writes the CNN website.
Los Angeles – A Los Angeles court on Sunday acquitted Maurice Hastings, who was wrongfully convicted of a robbery-murder and sexual assault committed by someone else in 1983. The now 69-year-old Hastings was released from prison last October after 38 years, but only now has the court officially declared him innocent and apologized to him, writes the CNN website. Hastings accepted the apology and wants to “enjoy life” with a clean slate. According to CNN, he now works with the homeless.
“I'm sorry, I'm very sorry for the great injustice that my office and the legal system have done to you. I know that in 38 years it's not enough to say 'I'm sorry.' We have to learn from this,” said the district attorney Martha Carrill.
Hastings was sentenced to life in prison in 1988. According to the verdict at the time, he kidnapped a thirty-year-old woman in the Californian city of Inglewood in 1983, raped her and then shot her. The body was found in the trunk of the woman's car.
Hastings managed to get free thanks to the Los Angeles branch of the Innocence Project organization, which is dedicated to fighting for the rights of convicts who, according to it, were wrongly imprisoned. Last June, DNA analysis, which the organization advocated for, proved that traces of sperm from the murdered woman's body did not belong to Hastings. It was subsequently found in the database that the discovered biological traces belonged to a man who died in prison two years ago. He was convicted for other cases of kidnapping and rape. Hastings has maintained his innocence throughout his time in prison and has been asking for a DNA test to prove it since 2000.
“It means a lot. heard,” Hastings said at a news conference after the sentencing. “I'm ready to move on with my life. I'm a happy person now,” added the freed man, one of about 3,400 people who have been wrongly convicted in the U.S. so far. ; 36 US states, including California, where Hastings was convicted, have laws that award such compensation automatically. Its amount varies and ranges from roughly $50,000 (about 1.1 million crowns) for each year of wrongful imprisonment.
According to the Innocence Project, a wrongfully convicted person spends an average of 14 years in prison in the US. The first acquittal based on DNA evidence, like the Hastings case, was in 1989.