A California man who has spent 25 years in prison for a murder has been exonerated and ordered released by a judge on Thursday after prosecutors agreed he had been wrongly convicted.
Miguel Solorio, 44, was arrested in 1998 for a fatal drive-by shooting in Whittier, southeast of Los Angeles, and eventually sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
Superior Court Judge William Ryan overturned Solorio’s conviction during a Los Angeles court hearing that Solorio attended remotely.
Solorio was represented by a team of lawyers from the Northern California Innocence Project who petitioned that Solorio’s conviction was based on faulty eyewitness identification practices.
His attorneys said the case against Solorio relied heavily on a now-debunked method of identifying a suspect that results in contaminating the witnesses’ memory by repeatedly showing photos of the same person over and over.
In Solorio’s case, before it was in the news four eyewitnesses shown his photo did not identify him as the suspect, and some even pointed to a different person. But rather than pursue other leads, law enforcement continued to present the witnesses with photos of Solorio until some of them eventually identified him, his lawyers said.
The district attorney’s letter noted that “new documentable scientific consensus emerged in 2020 that a witness’s memory for a suspect should be tested only once, as even the test itself contaminates the witness’s memory.”
The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has up to five days to process Solorio’s release from Mule Creek State Prison southeast of Sacramento.