A man who spent 39 years in prison for a Simi Valley murder he didn’t commit is now free. Governor Jerry Brown pardoned Craig Coley last Wednesday.
DNA testing showed that Coley did not murder his former girlfriend and her son. The killer beat and strangled the victim, and smothered her four-year-old son shortly after Coley and the victim had broken up. Coley always maintained his innocence and appealed to Brown for clemency in 2015.
Biological evidence collected at the scene showed that Coley’s DNA was not present. Initially, the court ordered case evidence to be destroyed. However the private laboratories that had the evidence went out of business. A third laboratory acquired the assets of the defunct labs, and recently located the case evidence. Both the Simi Valley Police Department and the Ventura County Prosecutor’s Office supported Coley’s bid for clemency. The agencies released a joint statement saying they no longer had confidence that Coley committed the crime.
Police arrested Coley in 1978 on the day they discovered the victims’ bodies. Prosecutors tried Coley twice for the crime. The first jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of conviction, and the judge declared a mistrial. The second jury convicted Coley of the murders in 1980.
Simi Valley Murder Attorney
Cold cases pose difficult challenges. Convictions may prejudice the courts and prosecutors. Witnesses may move or die. Evidence can be lost or destroyed. In this case, persistence on the parts of the wrongly convicted man and a slew of others helped win his freedom. When you’re facing murder charges, hire an experienced aggressive defense attorney who will fight for your rights and freedom.
Homicide charges are the most serious charges you can face in California. Because California has – and uses – the death penalty, your life may literally be on the line. Your best strategy is to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney like Robert Helfend. Mr. Helfend has more than 30 years of experience in criminal defense. He manages each case personally, and will not hand your defense over to a less experienced attorney.
Don’t risk your life and freedom on an attorney who won’t fight for you. Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County murder case.
Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM, via Flickr.com