After fresh DNA evidence suggested a different individual was responsible for the murder, a US man who had been imprisoned for over 40 years was released.
Roberta Wydermyer was murdered in California in 1983, and Maurice Hastings also committed two attempted murders. He spent more than 38 years in state prison for those crimes.
A different individual, who passed away in prison in 2020, was identified instead by new DNA evidence.
After having his 1988 conviction overturned on October 20, Mr. Hastings—now 69—was allowed to leave prison.
His conviction was a “grave injustice,” according to LA County District Attorney George Gascón.
“The justice system is not perfect, and when we learn of fresh evidence which causes us to lose faith in a conviction, it is our duty to act immediately,” he continued in a statement
In 1983, Roberta Wydermyer was discovered shot once in the head in the trunk of her automobile. She has already experienced sexual assault.
After that, Mr. Hastings was accused of murder, and the death sentence was sought by the prosecution.
He was found guilty by a second jury after the first one was deadlocked, and he was given a life term in state prison without the chance of parole in 1988.
An oral swab from the victim’s autopsy revealed the presence of semen. Although Mr. Hastings had insisted on his innocence from the moment of his arrest, the district attorney turned down a request for DNA testing of the swab in 2000.
Eventually he was able to put in a claim of innocence to the DA’s Conviction Integrity Unit in 2021 and DNA testing in June found that the semen was not his.