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‘So happy’: Man acquitted after 33 years in US prison | Court News

Daniel Saldana was convicted of attempted murder in 1990, but evidence suggests he wasn’t even there.

A California man serving 33 years in prison for attempted murder has been acquitted and released after it was discovered he wasn’t even at the scene of the attack.

Daniel Saldana, 55, was convicted in 1990 of shooting a car leaving a high school football game in Baldwin Park in East Los Angeles. Inside were six teenagers, two of whom were injured but survived.

The attackers mistook the teens for gang members, authorities said.

Saldana, a 22-year-old full-time construction worker at the time of the shooting, was one of three men charged with the assault. Saldana was convicted of six counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting into an occupied vehicle and was sentenced to 45 years in prison, including life in a state prison.

On Thursday, Saldana appeared at a news conference to acquit him, along with District Attorney George Gascone. He said he was delighted to be released.

“It’s a struggle, waking up every day knowing you’re innocent, while I’m in a cell, crying for help,” Saldana said, according to Southern California News Corp.

“I’m very happy that day has come,” he added.

Gascohen said the district attorney’s office learned that another convicted assailant told authorities at a 2017 parole hearing that Saldana “was not involved in any way in the shooting and that he was involved in the incident.” The investigation into Saldana’s case began in February after he was not present during the incident”.

He added that a former deputy district attorney attended the hearing “but apparently did nothing” and did not share exculpatory information with Saldana or his attorneys as required.

As a result, Saldana was sentenced to another six years in prison before the district attorney’s office reopened the case and declared him not guilty, Gascón said.

The district attorney offered no other details about the case, but he apologized to Saldana and his family.

“I know it’s not going to bring you back the decades you endured in prison,” he said. “But I hope our apology brings you some comfort as you begin your new life.”

Gascón added: “It’s not only the tragedy of putting people in jail for crimes they didn’t commit, but every time such a gross injustice happens, those who are really responsible are still out there committing other crimes.”

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