LA County DA overturns two wrongful convictions from more than two decades ago

LA County DA overturns two wrongful convictions from more than two decades ago


Two men who spent decades behind bars were exonerated of the crimes they did not commit on Wednesday. 

During a press conference, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón overturned the wrongful convictions of Giovanni Hernandez and Miguel Solorio, both of whom spent more than 20 years serving for crimes they were sentenced for but did not do. 

“It’s truly devastating when people are wrongfully convicted, especially when they were so young at the time of their arrest,” Gascón said. “In the case of Mr. Solorio, he was 19 years old. Mr. Hernandez was just 14 years old.”

Miguel Solorio was arrested in 1998 for a drive-by shooting in Whittier, with prosecutors contending that he was driving a car full of gang members. The shooting left 81-year-old Mary Bramlett dead. 

He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole, which he appealed thanks to help from the Northern California Innocence Project. The appeal “led to the conclusion that Solorio was misidentified as his brother Pedro Solorio in a photo lineup,” despite having spent the evening with his girlfriend at the time. 

Solorio spoke at the conference, pleading with law enforcement to avoid making the same mistake they did with his case.

“I also want to urge leaders to follow the new science of eye witness identification,” Solorio said. “I know there are many other innocent people in prison who were not identified from the first lineup. Their cases deserve to be reviewed.”

Similarly, Giovanni Hernandez was arrested in 2006 for a drive-by shooting in Culver City, which left 16-year-old Gary Ortiz dead. He was initially sentenced to life in prison. 

He submitted a claim for review of his case in 2015 with the DA’s Conviction Integrity Unit, but it was denied. He again submitted a claim in 2021 and with the help of the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic and Loyola Law School was exonerated.

An investigation from the District Attorney’s Office “resulted in new exculpatory evidence and new statements from witnesses previously not interviewed or contacted at the time of the original investigation.” Investigators reviewed cell phone records from the time, which showed that Hernandez was not actually at the location of the shooting, verifying his claims that he was at his home at the time. 

“These cases not only highlight the tragic impact on the lives of those directly affected but also underline the impact to the family and friends left behind,” Gascón said. “I am committed to ensuring that lessons are learned from this grave error, and that steps are taken to prevent similar injustices from occurring in the future.”

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