UNITED STATES NEWS

2 Los Angeles County men exonerated after spending decades in prison

Dec 13, 2023, 7:29 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two men who spent decades in prison for crimes they didn’t commit have been exonerated and freed, the Los Angeles County district attorney announced Wednesday.

Giovanni Hernandez and Miguel Solorio had their convictions vacated earlier this year and on Wednesday a judge found them factually innocent, the District Attorney’s Office said in an email.

At a news conference, District Attorney George Gascón apologized to both men.

“It’s truly devastating when people are wrongfully convicted, especially when they were so young at the time of their arrest. In the case of Mr. Solorio, he was 19 years old. Mr. Hernandez was just 14 years old,” Gascón said.

After two trials, Hernandez was convicted in 2012 of killing 16-year-old Gary Ortiz during a 2006 drive-by shooting in Culver City. He was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison. Hernandez said he was at home with his family at the time of the shooting.

He was exonerated after his case was twice submitted to the Conviction Integrity Unit of the District Attorney’s Office.

Investigators interviewed witnesses who hadn’t previously been contacted and analyzed Hernandez’s cellphone records, which showed he wasn’t near the shooting location, according to a statement from the DA’s office.

Solorio spent 25 years in prison following his conviction for the 1998 shooting of an 81-year-old woman, Mary Bramlett, in an unincorporated county area near Whittier.

Authorities contended Solorio was driving a car containing gang members who mistakenly shot Bramlett while she was stopped at a red light. She had been driving home with some friends after playing bridge at church.

Solorio, who said he had spent the evening with his girlfriend, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

His attorney submitted an innocence claim in 2021 to the Conviction Integrity Unit, which concluded on the basis of new evidence that Solorio had been misidentified in a photo lineup, the DA’s office statement said.

Hernandez was represented by the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic at Loyola Law School and Solorio was represented by the Northern California Innocence Project.

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2 Los Angeles County men exonerated after spending decades in prison