Michael Hanline spent 36 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit. At the age of 32, Hanline was arrested for kidnapping a resident of his town, fatally shooting him, and dumping his body off a highway in Ventura County, California. Hanline was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
But in 1999, the California Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to freeing the innocent, said that Hanline contacted its attorneys as soon as the group got established, and they agreed to take his case.
In October 2010, in a 50-page ruling, a federal magistrate indicated that Hanline should be released from custody or given a trail within 60 days. But a federal district judge declined to cooperate, citing that Hanline failed to provide “clear and convincing” evidence to warrant a new trial.
In April 2013, the California Innocence Project embarked on a 600-mile ‘Walk for Innocence’ to petition the California governor clemency for Hanline and 11 other potentially innocent jailbirds. Check out the video below, where the advocacy group claims that case documents were hidden to convict Hanline.
In November 2014, a judge vacated Hanline’s sentence in light of new DNA evidence that contradicted the prosecutions original case. It marked the first time the Ventura County District Attornye’s office advised setting aside a conviction. That month, Hanline was released from jail but required to wear and ankle bracelet to track his whereabouts. The contingency of the deal was that Hanline could be retried when the DA finished its investigation of the 36-year-old case.
Yesterday, District attorney Michael Schwartz released a statement that said, “we’re not satisfied the case can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” making Michael Hanline a FREE MAN. Here’s Hanline’s emotional statement upon release:
I can’t imagine the absolutely misery, hopelessness, and injustice Hanline must have felt spending over three decades in a steel box for a crime he had nothing to do with. Our criminal justice system failed him, and this double-stacked bacon cheeseburger will never fix that. But it sure as hell doesn’t hurt it (burger segment begins at 1:10 mark).
[Via VC Star]