After more than three decades behind bars, a California man who has served the state’s longest sentence for a wrongful conviction, is expected to be released next week.
Michael Ray Hanline was convicted of the 1978 murder of a Ventura man and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 1980. The Los Angeles Times reported that despite being cleared by DNA evidence, prosecutors have not ruled out the possibility of a new trial for
California Innocence Project
client Hanline. DNA of crime scene evidence did not match to Hanline or his alleged accomplice.
In addition to the DNA evidence, sealed reports were uncovered that reveal that prosecutors failed to inform the defense that Hanline’s then girlfriend, Mry Bishoff, who served as a key witness in Hanline’s trial, was granted immunity for her testimony. Recent interviews over the last few months familiar with the trio suggest several other individuals had motives and the means to commit the crime.
In 2010, a federal judge recommended that Hanline’s conviction be set aside and that he be retried. But a U.S. district judge refused the recommendation. All of that changed last week when a Ventura County superior court judge set aside the conviction and sentence, scheduling a hearing for Monday where his bail and new trial date could be set.
“It’s amazing that Mike will finally be released after 36 years of wrongful incarceration,” said Justin Brooks, the director of the project at California Western School of Law, in a statement. “It’s time for him to get back to his family and his life.”