Joaquin Ciria spent three decades in prison for a murder he did not commit. Now 61, this San Francisco man will be released

Ciria was exonerated on Monday, exactly 32 years from the date of his arrest, following a thorough review and investigation by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Innocence Commission, the district attorney said. district of San Francisco, Chesa Boudin, in an online statement.

The 61-year-old was convicted of murder in 1991 for the shooting death of Felix Bastarrica. There was no physical evidence linking Ciria to the crime, but San Francisco police detectives zeroed in on him “based on rumors on the street and statements from the driver of the getaway, George Varela”, according to the district attorney.

Bastarrica had in fact been killed by a mutual acquaintance of Varela and Ciria, the Northern California Innocence Project said in a press release.

In exchange for full immunity, Verala testified that he drove Ciria to and from the crime scene, but was under extreme pressure from the police to identify Ciria at the time, although Ciria have two alibi witnesses who were never heard at trial, the district attorney said.

“It’s very hard, you know? To see your child; they’re taking your son away from you. It’s sad to see your child growing up on his own,” Ciria’s mother, Yojana Paiz, told the CNN affiliate, KPIX. “But finally, we’re here. We’re at the end now. He’s going to be out. Whatever God has for us, we have to accept it.”

Since Ciria’s imprisonment began, Paiz said she has stayed in touch with her son through regular visits and phone calls.

Ciria’s attorney Ellen Eggers and Northern California Innocence Project attorney Paige Kaneb took her case to the Prosecutor’s Innocence Commission for review and after a four-month investigation, Boudin made her decision to exonerate. Ciria.

New evidence provided by Ciria’s legal team showed he was convicted on the basis of perjury for another man’s crime, the district attorney said. Ciria’s case was the first examined by the Innocence Commission since its creation in 2020.

Vacations and Stolen Memories

“Promoting justice in our legal system requires us not only to move forward but also to look back,” Boudin said. “Wrongful convictions cause concentric circles of harm: to those wrongfully convicted, to victims of crime who have been told a false story and re-traumatized, to jurors who have unwittingly participated in the injustice and integrity of the system as a whole. When a person has been wrongfully convicted, it is up to prosecutors to correct that injustice.”

Ciria is currently in San Francisco County Jail after being transported from Folsom Jail last week, Eggers told CNN, and is expected to be released within the week.

Under California state law, Ciria is entitled to financial compensation, at the rate of $140 a day for the 32 years he spent in prison, which equates to just over 1.6 million dollars, according to the California Victim Compensation Board.

“As a result of this wrongful conviction, the state stole 32 birthdays, 32 Christmases, 32 years during which he was unable to be with his son for all the special moments,” Kaneb said in an online statement. . “Yet Joaquin has kept his big heart and easy smile and is full of joy as he looks forward to starting his life over again.”

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