News 09.29.14

Washington Man Compensated for Ten Years Behind Bars

An

Innocence Project Northwest

(IPNW) client was awarded nearly a half a million dollars in compensation at a hearing on Friday. Brandon Olebar spent 10 years behind bars after being wrongly convicted of robbery and burglary based solely on eyewitness identification.

 

The

Seattle Times

reported that Olebar is the organization’s first client to receive compensation under a law passed last year. He was granted $546,690 — $49,671 of which will go toward covering attorney fees.

 

Olebar, who was joined at the hearing by his wife and newborn daughter, told the

Times

he plans to use the money to get an apartment, buy a car and go back to school.

 

The victim in the case said as many as eight attackers beat him for more than 10 minutes and that they had tattoos of feathers on their faces. Two days after the attack, Olebar was identified from a photo montage despite the fact that he did not have a facial tattoo and had an alibi. In light of the new evidence, two IPNW law students tracked down and interviewed three of the assailants, who signed sworn statements admitting their involvement and denying that Olebar was present during the attack. The evidence was ultimately presented to the chief criminal deputy prosecutor. The district attorney’s office moved to vacate Olebar’s conviction in December.

 

Under the law that was passed in 2013, people who were wrongfully convicted in Washington are now able to file a claim in superior court for damages against the state and receive up to $50,000 for each year of imprisonment, including time spent awaiting trial. Prior to the passage of the law, the wrongly convicted in Washington could only sue based on something other than their wrongful conviction, such as police or prosecutorial misconduct.

 


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