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California Awards Wrongly Incarcerated Man $428,000

The State of California awarded $428,000 on September 24, 2003 for the 12 years of false incarceration served by an East Palo Alto, California man whose murder conviction had been abated when Santa Clara County prosecutors became convinced they had put the wrong man behind bars.

Quedellis "Rick" Walker was convicted in 1991 of killing his ex-girlfriend Lisa Hopewell. After he had exhausted all appeals, his attorney, Alison Tucher, came up with evidence that Walker was the wrong man and had been framed. A judge declared Walker innocent and ordered his release.

Walker filed a claim with the state under California Penal Code § 4904, which provides for legislative appropriation of $100 per day for such false incarceration. Assemblyman Joe Simitian introduced a separate bill for Walker, AB 1302, at 2:30 a.m. of September 13, 2003 _ the last night of the politically stalemated state budget bill session. AB 1302 turned out to be the only budget item that night for which the sharply partisan legislature could put aside differences to muster the necessary 2/3 vote. If it had not passed, Walker would have had to wait another year to gain budget approval for his reparation. Then Governor Davis signed the bill into law on September 24, 2003. This was only the third time since § 4904 was enacted in 2001 that a claim was approved.

Sources: San Francisco Chronicle; Sacramento Bee.

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