Anthony Manuel Maldonado says he was convicted of a 2007 Costa Mesa robbery on Harbor Boulevard by an “evil eye and an uneven hand” because the victim in the case, Robert Schuh, had a conviction for forgery.
During a police photo lineup, Schuh didn't pick Maldonado, whose image was included, but rather an innocent man as the armed robber who'd stolen his wallet and cell phone.
In Maldonado's view, Schuh's failure to pick his picture underscored the weakness in the prosecution's case that was, he claims, nonetheless pursued with “prosecutorial vindictiveness” by the Orange County District Attorney's office.
The defendant also says a gun use enhancement was unfair because it relied solely on Schuh's word that the bandit displayed a portion of a shotgun while making demands to “give me your shit.”
In 2012, Maldonado asked federal judges to reverse his convictions based largely on the notion that there had been insufficient evidence of his guilt.
But within 48 hours of the Schuh robbery, police found the defendant in a vehicle matching the description of the bandit's car and inside was the victim's cell phone.
Analysis found a print from Maldonado's left ring finger on the phone.
This month, U.S. District Court Judge Fernando M. Olguin accepted a magistrate judge's findings that Maldonado's conviction was righteous and closed the appeal.
Upshot: The robber, 31 and a convicted felon before the Costa Mesa crime, will continue to serve his 224-month sentence inside Ironwood State Prison in Blythe.