Our thanks to Martin for this. Extracts (emphases ours):
A man has been awarded almost $2m (£1.4m) after being wrongly imprisoned for murder for almost 40 years.
Craig Richard Coley, 70, was awarded the cash on Thursday (15 February) by the California Victims Compensation Board, which allotted $140 for each of the 13,991 days he spent in prison…
He was jailed for the murders of 24-year-old Rhonda Wicht and her four-year-old son, Donald, who were found dead in her southern Californian apartment on 11 November 1978.
But Coley, who had always maintained his innocence, was pardoned last year, the day before Thanksgiving Day, by Californian Governor Jerry Brown, after advanced DNA evidence cleared his name.
Coley was arrested after Wicht had been found beaten, raped, and strangled. Her son, Donald, had been smothered in his bed. The former military man had recently ended a relationship with Wicht, and detectives made him their prime suspect.
Coley’s first trial in 1979 resulted in a hung jury, but at his second a year later, he was found guilty of the double murder and sentenced to life without parole.
After a series of failed appeals Coley’s supporters turned to a private lab, which used techniques not available at the time of the trial to examine Rhonda’s bed sheet. Tests did not find DNA from Coley, but did find DNA from another unknown man.
Investigators were also able to disprove testimony from an eyewitness who placed Coley at the scene.
How many innocent men must be languishing in prison – or facing execution, in prisons in the United States and elsewhere – because they don’t have supporters with the money to fund DNA tests, private investigators etc.?