After spending more than half his life in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, Joaquin Ciria, 61, was acquitted by San Francisco Superior Court on Monday. The date marked the exact 32 years of his imprisonment.
Ciria was convicted in 1991 of the murder of Felix Bastarrica, which happened a year earlier. Although there is no evidence linking him to the crime, “rumblings from the streets and the testimony of the getaway driver, George Varela”, pointed to the man as guilty, according to a note from prosecutor Chesa Boudin.
At the trial, two of the three visual witnesses were white people who identified Ciria as the killer based on her skin color. These same witnesses were compromised by the distance and the lighting of the place, considering that the crime happened during the night.
Chesa Boundin says the jury disregarded pressure from the police to have Varela identify Ciria as the killer in exchange for his immunity. In addition, two alibis of the convict, who was at home with his newborn son at the time of the crime, were not even heard.
The new investigations were led by Cira’s attorney, Ellen Eggers, in partnership with the legal NGO Northern California Innocence Project, and focused on police reports, legal transcripts and other documents from the case. Bastarrica was reportedly killed by an acquaintance of Varela and Ciria, according to a bulletin released by the organization.
In addition to being exonerated, Syria will also be entitled to receive financial compensation for the time he spent unjustly detained. He will receive US$ 140 (about R$ 647) for each day in prison, an amount that approaches US$ 1.6 million (R$ 7.4 million).
* under the supervision of Enzo Menezes