Wrongfully Imprisoned Black Man Officially Declared Innocent After Serving 38 Years
One Black man is officially getting a second chance at freedom. Maurice Hastings was officially declared innocent on Wednesday after serving 38 years behind bars, according to NBC News.
Hastings was released from prison last year after DNA evidence led to another suspect. The judge in the case vacated Hastings’ conviction after a request from Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office prosecutors and Hastings’ lawyers from the Los Angeles Innocence Project.
The recent declaration of being “factually innocent” means the new evidence proves Hastings emphatically did not commit the crime.
“It means a lot. I’m grateful for the judge’s ruling, and the apologies—everything has been wonderful today,” the 69-year-old said. “I’m ready to move on with my life. I’m a happy man today.”
Hastings was found guilty in 1988 for the murder of Roberta Wydermyer in Inglewood and two other attempted murders. Hastings maintained his innocence. He continued to ask for DNA testing, but he was repeatedly denied. Finally, after working with the Innocence Project at Cal State L.A., the DNA he submitted didn’t match the DNA submitted as evidence.
“Thanks to modern science, we now know the identity of another man we believe was involved in the abduction, sexual assault, and murder of Mrs. Wydermyer,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said.
After being put into the state database, the DNA was matched to another man who was convicted of armed kidnapping and forced sexual intercourse of a female who was placed in the trunk of a vehicle.
After being freed, many would think Hastings would be angry. “I’m not pointing fingers,” he said. “I’m not standing up here a bitter man. But I just want to enjoy my life while I have it. And I just want to move forward.”
The real suspect, Kenneth Packnett, died in prison in 2020.