Gov. Jerry Brown pardoned a man Wednesday who served 38 years of a life sentence for a 1978 double murder conviction after modern DNA testing exonerated him.
Craig Richard Coley was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, 24-year-old Rhonda Wicht, and her 4-year-old son, Donald, in a second trial after the first trial resulted in a hung jury. Coley, who had no criminal history before being arrested, will be released immediately.
Coley, 70, petitioned for clemency in September 2015 on the grounds that he was innocent. An investigation by the Simi Valley Police Department and Ventura County District Attorney’s Office found that the detective who originally investigated the case mishandled the investigation and Coley had been wrongfully convicted.
The DA and police chief wrote they “no longer have confidence in the weight of the evidence used to convict Mr. Coley,” according to the release.