Published: Wed, February 27, 2019
Worldwide | By Stella Potter

California man gets $21 million payout for wrongful murder conviction

California man gets $21 million payout for wrongful murder conviction

Then-Gov. Jerry Brown pardoned the Navy veteran in 2017, and the California Victim Compensation Board past year awarded him nearly $2 million in compensation - $140 for each of the 13,991 days Coley was held "illegally behind bars, away from society, employment, and (his) loved ones".

'While no amount of money can make up for what happened to Mr Coley, settling this case is the right thing to do for Mr Coley and our community.

When Coley was convicted of the murders, a judge signed an order that permitted the destruction of the crime scene evidence.

Vietnam War veteran Mr Coley was jailed for the murder of Rhonda Wicht, 24, and her four-year-old son Donald.

Although California's Victim's Compensation Government Claim Board gave him $2 million following his release, Coley sued Coley sued Simi Valley, the city that prosecuted him. Jerry Brown. He was 70 years old when he was finally set free.

Craig Coley would never be allowed to 39 years in prison. During the second trial, the jury convicted him of two counts of first-degree murder and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


Cole always maintained his innocence in the double murder.

He was exonerated after evidence found it was another man's DNA on the bed sheets and not Mr Coley's.

Police began reviewing his case in 2016 after a retired detective expressed concerns about his conviction and believed Coley was either wrongfully convicted or framed. Among them? A neighbor who said she'd seen a man matching Coley's description driving away from Wicht's home the morning of the murders couldn't have seen what she said she did based on the location of the window she said she was looking out of, authorities discovered. The city will pay about $4.9 million and the rest is expected to be paid by insurance and other sources.

Ron Kaye, a lawyer representing Coley, said the settlement offered some closure and vindication for his client, though no amount of money could compensate him for the life he missed. Thirty-nine years is the longest prison term overturned in California, the city says.

As part of the new investigation, police also went to the apartment building where the neighbors lived and determined it would've been hard to make out any details of a vehicle and impossible to identify anyone inside. And he found that the biological samples still existed - so the DNA Test could be made.

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