Announcing they'd lost faith in the validity of Orange County law enforcement's armed robbery case against 51-year-old Guy Donell Miles, justices at the California Court of Appeal this afternoon overturned the 1999 conviction.
A San Quentin State Prison inmate who has always maintained his innocence, Miles served nearly 19 years of a 75 years to life punishment imposed by Superior Court Judge Frank F. Fasel for supposedly helping to rob a Fullerton business in June 1998, but now will be either released from custody or tried again.
In a 35-page written opinion, the justices—Eileen Moore, Richard Aronson and Richard Fybel—noted that Southwest Airlines flight and telephone records corroborated Miles' alibi that he'd been in Las Vegas during the crime, but that Fasel blocked that evidence from the jury and the Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) ridiculed the defense as unsupported by any "hard evidence."
No forensic evidence tied Miles to the robbery, which helped cause the jury to deliberate for five days before deciding to back the prosecution following a four-week trial.
Moore, a combat nurse during the Vietnam War, used a concurring opinion to highlight other problems with the case that as recently as last year OCDA defended as righteous.
"There were significant problems with the eyewitness identifications, including suggestive [police] photographic lineups and improper prosecutorial tactics, which resulted in Miles' conviction," Moore observed. "The majority opinion does not find Miles to be 'factually innocent.' But there is a very strong likelihood that an innocent man has spent almost 19 years in custody for a crime he did not commit."
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For more than a decade, the California Innocence Project has championed the conviction as an example of gross injustice and helped discover new evidence—credible declarations by the actual robbers that Miles hadn't been involved in the crime.
Go HERE to read the Innocence Project's summary of the faulty government case.