The amount of those wrongfully imprisoned throughout the world, majority of them Black or people of color, is a much bigger number than any if us could begin to imagine. However, we have seen a silver lining in recent times with many of those people being exonerated within the past year alone in Tennessee, Georgia and Philadelphia just to name a few.
The latest person being added to the exonerated list is 61-year-old Joaquin Ciria, a San Francisco Black man that spent 32 years in prison after being convicted for shooting and killing his friend. Following a review of his case by the district’s recently formed Innocence Commission, it now looks like he will be a free man very soon.
ABC News confirms that San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin exonerated Ciria this past Monday (April 18) after a judge overturned his conviction, stating in a press release, “Our office is proud of and grateful for the work of the Innocence Commission in rectifying the wrongful conviction of Mr. Ciria.” He went on add, “Although we cannot give him back the decades of his life lost we are thankful that the court has corrected this miscarriage of justice.”
Ciria’s arrest stems from the March 1990 murder of Felix Bastarrica in San Francisco. He was convicted a year later based on false witness testimony and police misconduct, including zero physical evidence connecting him to the crime and San Francisco police going off street rumors. There also was the testimony from alleged getaway driver, George Varela, who was later found to be pressured by police to name Ciria as the perpetrator in exchange for immunity.
More details in Joaquin Ciria’s 32-year journey to exoneration below, via ABC News:
“The commission found that Varela has admitted to Ciria’s family members that he had falsely testified.
The jury heard from three eyewitnesses in Ciria’s trial, two of whom Boudin’s office says were ‘cross-racial identifications by strangers whose views were compromised by distance and poor lighting during the late-night shooting.’
An alternate suspect was not mentioned to the jury, and evidence of Ciria’s alibi was not given on trial despite two available alibi witnesses.
The DA’s office says Ciria will be released within the next few days, and will also have his name added to the National Registry of Exonerations. California alone has seen 270 known wrongful convictions since they first were traced back in 1989. Ironically, Joaquin’s exoneration comes almost 32 years to the day of his April 19, 1990 wrongful arrest.
It’s good to see another one of our people served rightful justice, and we can only pray that more who deserve it are released before it’s too late.
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San Francisco Man Exonerated After Spending Three Decades In Prison was originally published on blackamericaweb.com