‘I never lost hope’: California man wrongly convicted of killing six high school students in a shooting is released after 33 YEARS behind bars and is finally acquitted
- Daniel Saldana, 55, was convicted of shooting at a car in Baldwin Park in 1990
- He was declared innocent on Thursday and spoke at a press conference
A California man wrongfully convicted of the attempted murder of six high school students in a shooting spree has walked free after 33 years behind bars when he was finally acquitted, noting he never lost hope.
Daniel Saldana, 55, was declared innocent by the Los Angeles district attorney on Thursday.
He was convicted in 1990 of shooting at a car carrying six teenagers exiting a high school football game in Baldwin Park, east of Los Angeles.
Two students were injured in the 1989 attack, but survived. Authorities said the attackers mistook the teens for gang members.
On Thursday, dressed in a gray suit and flanked by family members at the Hall of Justice in Downtown Los Angeles, Saldana said with District Attorney George Gascón, “I never gave up hope.”
Daniel Saldana, right, flanked by his attorney Mike Romano, center, and fellow exoneree Frankie Carrillo, rear left. Saldana, who spent 33 years in California prison for attempted murder, has been declared innocent and released
“It’s a struggle, waking up every day knowing you’re innocent and here I am locked in a cell, screaming for help,” Saldana said, according to the Southern California News Group.
“I’m just so glad this day has come,” he added.
Saldana was 22 at the time of the 1989 shooting and worked full-time as a construction worker. He was one of three men charged with the attack.
He was convicted of six counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting at an occupied vehicle and sentenced to 45 years to life in state prison.
Gascón’s office launched an investigation after learning in February that another convicted assailant told authorities at a 2017 parole hearing that Saldana was “in no way involved in the shooting and that he was not present at the incident.” said the prosecutor.
A former deputy prosecutor attended the hearing “but apparently did nothing” and failed to share the exculpatory information with Saldana or his lawyer as required, Gascón said.
Daniel Saldana, right, shaking hands with Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, left. Saldana’s lawyer Mike Romano is in the middle. Saldana, who spent 33 years in California prison for attempted murder, has been declared innocent and released
That caused Saldana to spend another six years in prison before the prosecutor’s office reopened the case and declared him innocent, Gascón said.
It was not immediately clear whether Saldana would be entitled to compensation from Los Angeles or California for his lengthy stint in prison.
The prosecutor has not released any other details of the case, but he apologized to Saldana and his family.
“I know this won’t put you back in the decades you spent in prison,” he said. “But I hope our apologies can bring you some comfort as you begin your new life.”
Gascón added: “Not only is it a tragedy to force people into prison for a crime they didn’t commit, but every time an injustice of this magnitude happens, the real ones responsible are still there to commit other crimes.” to commit.’
In 2021, neighboring Riverside County settled a lawsuit and paid $11 million to Horace Roberts, who spent two decades in prison after being wrongly convicted of murdering his girlfriend in 1998.
Gascón did not disclose additional details about the case, but expressed his condolences to Saldana.