Joaquin Ciria, 61, has been exonerated by San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin Monday after spending 32 years in prison, reported ABC News. Ciria was accused of shooting and killing his friend. However, Boudin said a false witness testimony and police misconduct led to Ciria’s conviction.
Ciria was arrested in 1990 for the shooting and killing of Felix Bastarrica in San Francisco. Per ABC’s report, the jury heard from three eyewitnesses in Ciria’s trial, two of whom were “cross-racial identifications by strangers” whose sight was compromised by distance and darkness, according to Boudin.
Two alibi witnesses were available, however, they were not brought to trial.
More on Ciria’s case from ABC News:
According to Boudin, no physical evidence linked Ciria to the crime, but San Francisco police believed Ciria to be the shooter based on street rumors and statements from the alleged getaway driver, George Varela.
Varela testified in exchange for complete immunity that he drove Ciria to and from the scene. Boudin states that Varela, who was then a teenager, was pressured by police to name Ciria as the perpetrator.
Ciria’s case was the first one reviewed by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office’s Innocence Commission since its formation in 2020. The commission was created to review potential wrongful convictions and present findings to Boudin’s office.
Ciria’s release date is expected to be within the next few days, per the DA’s office.
“Our office is proud of and grateful for the work of the Innocence Commission in rectifying the wrongful conviction of Mr. Ciria. Although we cannot give him back the decades of his life lost we are thankful that the court has corrected this miscarriage of justice,” Boudin said via press release.
According to the National Registry of Exonerations, there have been over 270 individuals wrongfully convicted in California. Ciria’s case will added to the list.