LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A Compton man who has served as an inmate in San Quentin Prison for the past 19 years will be released next week if he has questions about the evidence used to convict him.
"His belief has not changed since today's verdict, but his verdict has been recalled," said Michael Peterson, lawyer for the Project for Innocents. "The judge was able to exercise a certain amount of discretion and make various decisions."
Emon Barnes, 34, was 15 when he was arrested by members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on suspicion of attempted murder in 2001 in connection with two gang-related shootings in Compton.
Barnes, who was tried as an adult and saved his innocence, was found guilty in one of the shootings, in a case that depended largely on testimony from a juvenile witness.
And since Barnes' 2001 conviction, California law has changed to prevent 15-year-old defendants from being tried as adults.
"And they can't get a 40-year sentence like Emon," Peterson said.
Project lawyers for the Innocents at Loyola Law School took up Barnes' case about six years ago to clarify his name after that witness withdrew his testimony but got Barnes out of prison in the wake of a new one Urgency of the coronavirus pandemic.
Barnes was one of 2,400 inmates who contracted COVID-19 in prison, but lawyers said he has since recovered.
And his lawyers said even the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office supported the move to re-investigate the case.
"This is an example of how we can bring some of our current attitudes toward criminal justice and apply them to past cases," said Peterson.
The innocent project's lawyers said they would continue their work to clear Barnes' name after his release next week.