A 71-year-old man from California, who was wrongfully convicted for killing his ex-girlfriend and her son reached a $21 million out-of-court settlement from the city of Simi Valley, California.
The Vietnam War veteran, Craig Coley, was convicted to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 1978 sexual assault and killing of Rhonda Wicht, and her four-year-old son, Donald in their apartment.
No substantial evidence was presented during the said trial, and he was convicted based solely on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of the victim’s neighbors saying that they saw him and his truck outside the victim’s house.
Corey was exonerated in 2017 after investigators discovered exculpatory DNA evidence. Before his full exoneration, the then-Governor Jerry Brown gave him parole for being a ‘model inmate.’
“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,” said Simi Valley City Manager, Eric Levitt.
“The monetary cost of going to trial would be astronomical, and it would be irresponsible for us to move forward in that direction.”
For 39 year, Corey served prison time for a crime he did not commit. Authorities said that this is the most extended prison term to be overturned in the state of California.
Last year, Corey was paid $140 for each day that he spent in prison totaling to $1.95 million – making it the largest prisoner payout according to the state’s Victim Compensation Board.
With the help of his friend and former police officer, Mike Bender, Corey was able to redeem his life and cleared his name. Bender said that Corey has spoken with authorities and investigators about evidence collection and has met with parents of prisoners who maintained their innocence.
Bender said that with the payout Corey received last year, he was able to buy a home, visit places in his bucket list and continued to help those who are wrongfully convicted.
According to The Innocence Project, Corey is one of the 350,000 U. S. prisoners exonerated by DNA evidence since 1989. The organization that helps prisoners who are wrongfully convicted, also noted that the prisoners serve an average of 14 years of their sentences before they get exonerated. /apr