Daniel Saldana was convicted in 1990 of attempted murder, but evidence emerged that he was not even at the scene.
A California man who spent 33 years in prison for attempted murder has been declared innocent and released after it was found he wasn’t even at the scene of the attack.
Daniel Saldana, 55, was convicted in 1990 of opening fire on a car as it was leaving a football game at Baldwin Park High School, East Los Angeles. There were six young men inside, two of whom were wounded, but survived.
Authorities said the attackers mistook the teens for gang members.
Saldana, who was 22 at the time of the shooting and working full time as a construction worker, was one of three men charged in the attack. Saldana was found guilty of six counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting at an occupied vehicle, and was sentenced to 45 years to life in prison.
Saldana appeared with District Attorney George Gascon at a press conference announcing his acquittal Thursday. He said he was grateful to be released.
“It’s a struggle,” Saldana said, according to the Southern California Newsgroup. “Every day I wake up knowing you’re innocent and there I am locked in a cell, crying for help.”
“I am very happy this day has come,” he added.
Investigations into Saldana’s case began in February after the district attorney’s office learned that another convicted assailant told authorities during a 2017 parole hearing that Saldana “was not involved in the shooting in any way and was not present during the incident,” it said. Gascon.
He added that the former deputy district attorney was present at the hearing “but apparently did nothing” and failed to share the acquittal information with Saldana or his attorney as required.
As a result, Saldana spent an additional six years in prison before the DA’s office reopened the case and declared him not guilty, Gascon said.
The prosecutor did not disclose further details of the case but apologized to Saldana and his family.
He said, “I know this won’t take you back to the decades you endured in prison.” “But I hope our apologies will bring you some small comfort as you begin your new life.”
Gascon added, “Not only is it a tragedy to have people forced into prison for a crime they didn’t commit, but every time an injustice of this magnitude occurs, the real responsible people are still there to commit other crimes.”