A Wrongfully Convicted Man Is Set Free After 40 Years In Prison

Maurice Hastings, then 35 years old, was detained and accused of kidnapping, robbing, and killing Roberta Wydermyer, a young Inglewood lady.

Hastings was given a life sentence without parole by a jury. But he didn’t do it, and he’s been adamant about it ever since his arrest. And now that he has spent 38 years behind bars, he is free.

After being released on Friday, Hastings, 69, addressed the media and said, “I’m not standing up here a bitter guy.” ” I simply want to take advantage of this life I have. And I just want to proceed.

The Role of DNA

Hastings was innocent, according to a DNA test.

Hastings, who is now 69, had requested a test for years. He was able to take the exam thanks to the Los Angeles Innocence Project, which is housed at Cal State Los Angeles.

His conviction was reversed by the outcome.

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Hastings attended the hearing to hear the judge’s ruling. Hastings sat stoically as Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan informed the audience that he agreed the sentence should be overturned.

Hastings may be seen in a video recording of the proceedings from October 20th, chewing his bottom lip, nodding, and shutting his eyes while wearing a black suit and blue tie as the judge congratulates him and announces his impending release.

According to L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón, the true culprit was a convicted sex offender who passed away in 2020 while serving a sentence for another abduction and rape of two other women.

“It’s crucial that we go ahead with this technology because it will give people their lives back,” Hastings said of DNA testing.

Prosecutors Originally Sought The Death Penalty

According to the district attorney, Wydermyer’s corpse was discovered in the trunk of her automobile, and a single gunshot wound to the head was the cause of death. There were indications of sexual assault. She was 30 years old when she was slain while on a late-night grocery run.

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Because of these things, prosecutors first tried to get Hastings the death penalty. When the first trial ended with a deadlocked jury, a second trial led to a sentence of life in prison without the chance of getting out.

Paula Mitchell, who runs the Los Angeles Innocence Project, says that his case shows how dangerous it is to have a legal system that allows the death penalty.

Had the jury issued a death sentence instead of life without parole, Mr. Hastings may not have survived to see this day.” “The potential for executing an innocent individual is real. As this case indicates, our criminal justice system just leaves too much potential for mistakes. “

DNA testing has helped exonerate hundreds of wrongfully condemned individuals since 1989.

Hastings said that the first thing he did after being released from jail was eat lobster with his family and attorneys.

He said, “I hadn’t experienced that in quite some time.”

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