Black Man Wrongly Imprisoned For Decades Declared Innocent Of Murder

Photo: Getty Images

A California man who was wrongly imprisoned for decades has been officially declared innocent of a murder he never committed.

Maurice Hastings, who spent 38 years wrongly jailed, was freed from prison last year after DNA evidence pointed to a different suspect in the kidnapping and murder of Inglewood woman Roberta Wydermyer, per the Associated Press.

Though his murder conviction was vacated, prosecutors and Hastings' lawyers requested Judge William C. Ryan go further and declare him innocent of Wydermyer's killing.

On Wednesday (March 1), the judge officially declared that Hastings was "factually innocent," proving that the evidence conclusively found Hastings didn't commit the crime.

“It means a lot. I’m grateful for the judge’s ruling, and the apologies — everything has been wonderful today,” Hastings said following the hearing. “I’m ready to move on with my life. I’m a happy man today.”

Hastings “survived a nightmare,” District Attorney George Gascón said, noting that the ruling could pave the way for him to seek relief in connection to his wrongful conviction.

“He spent nearly four decades in prison exhausting every avenue to prove his innocence while being repeatedly denied,” Gascón said in a statement. “But Mr. Hastings has remained steadfast and faithful that one day he would hear a judge proclaim his innocence.”

According to reports, Wydermyer went on a late-night run to an Inglewood market in 1983 and never came home. As they were trying to find her, Wydermer's husband, Billy Ray, and friend, George Pinson, located her car, following the vehicle as it was being stolen. During the pursuit, the suspect opened fire, wounding the husband.

Police say the suspect robbed the woman, sexually assaulted her, and then shot her in the back of the head before stealing her vehicle.

Hastings was convicted in 1988 of the kidnapping and murder of Roberta Wydermyer as well as the attempted murder of her husband and friend. His first trial resulted in a deadlocked jury, but a second found him guilty of the crimes. He received a life sentence in prison without parole.

"The system failed you," Gascón said at the time Hastings was freed from prison. "The system failed the victims."

The Black Information Network is your source for Black News! Get the latest news 24/7 on The Black Information Network. Listen now on the iHeartRadio app or click HERE to tune in live.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content