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Innocent California Prisoner Paid $3,171,000 For 12 Years Wrongful incarceration

An East Palo Alto, California auto mechanic who served 12 years in state prison for a first degree murder he did not commit was paid $421,000 by the state plus $2.75 million by the County of Santa Clara.

Rick Walker was convicted in 1991 for the stabbing and suffocation death of his former girlfriend Faith Hopewell and sentenced to 26 years-to-life. Fortunately for him, a family friend, attorney Alison Tusher, re-examined his case, dug up new evidence and convinced the Santa County Superior Court to declare Walker ?factually innocent? and order his release in 2003.

Walker?s subsequent suit for wrongful prosecution, brought by San Francisco attorney Matt Davis, resulted in the $2.75 million settlement. But the suit had charged prosecutor Deputy District Attorney with mishandling witness testimony, an issue dropped with the settlement. Davis commented, ?While it can?t get him back the 12 years of his life that were taken away, it?s the best the system can do in terms of providing him some justice.?

The District Attorney?s office subsequently charged Mark Swanson in the killing, who took a deal for voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping and robbery in 2004 to have a 15 year determinate term. Walker?s wrongful conviction had been obtained upon false testimony by Rahsson Bowers, who gained a lesser murder conviction for himself in the process. With Walker?s exoneration, however, the District Attorney persuaded the parole board not to release Bowers, who had since become eligible for parole.

Walker has taken his fate realistically, saying that while still critical of the abuse suffered from the authorities, he tries to forgive and not be angry or bitter. Although his finances are now secure, he has continued to work since his release in 2003 ?to set a good example for his nieces and nephews.?

Source: San Jose Mercury News.

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