Maurice Hastings, 69, who spent nearly 40 years in jail for a murder he did not commit has finally been declared “innocent” by a judge in Los Angeles. Mr. Hastings was released last year in October after DNA evidence, hitherto untested, found that the murder was possibly committed by another suspected. The Los Angeles Innocence Project had pleaded his case.
On Wednesday, lawyers from the Innocence Project and prosecutors returned to court to ask Judge William C. Ryan to take the additional step of declaring Hastings “innocent,” Grio has reported. The Los Angeles judge ruled that Hastings was “factually innocent”—conclusively declaring that he did not commit the crime.
Ayesha Hussain, an attorney working for the Los Angeles Innocence Project at Cal State LA, who had been working on the Hastings case she was a student said that the decision was “overwhelming and humbling.”
“It means a lot. I’m grateful for the judge’s ruling, and the apologies — everything has been wonderful today. I’m ready to move on with my life. I’m a happy man today,” Hastings said after the decision per the Innocence Project.
District Attorney George Gascóndescribed Hastings’ 4-decades-long ordeal “a nightmare.”
“He spent nearly four decades in prison exhausting every avenue to prove his innocence while being repeatedly denied. But Mr. Hastings has remained steadfast and faithful that one day he would hear a judge proclaim his innocence, ” the District Attorney said.