Wrongly Convicted Man Freed After 33 Years

Daniel Saldana, 55, was a construction worker who was wrongfully convicted of attempted murder in 1990. He spent 33 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. On Thursday, May 26, 2023, he was finally exonerated and freed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

The case dates back to 1989, when a car carrying six teenagers was shot at by three men after leaving a high school football game in Baldwin Park, California. Two of the teens were wounded but survived. The attackers mistook them for rival gang members, according to authorities.

Saldana was one of the three men charged with the shooting. He was convicted of six counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting at an occupied vehicle. He was sentenced to 45 years to life in state prison.

Saldana maintained his innocence throughout his ordeal. He said he was not at the scene of the crime and had no involvement in it. He said he was working at his construction job at the time of the shooting.

However, his alibi was not enough to convince the jury or the judge. He appealed his conviction several times but was denied each time.

His fate changed in 2017, when another man who was convicted for the same shooting confessed during a parole hearing that Saldana was not involved in any way and was not present during the incident. The man said he felt guilty for letting Saldana take the blame for something he did not do.

This crucial piece of evidence was revealed by another prisoner who attended the parole hearing and contacted Saldana’s family. However, it took six more years for the information to reach the District Attorney’s Office, which reopened the case and declared Saldana innocent.

District Attorney George Gascón apologized to Saldana and his family for the injustice they suffered. He said his office would review other cases where exculpatory evidence may have been ignored or suppressed by former prosecutors.

Saldana said he was grateful to be freed and to reunite with his loved ones. He said he never lost hope that one day he would be vindicated.

“I just knew that one day this was going to come. I’m so grateful. I just thank God,”  he said.


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