SACRAMENTO — California has awarded nearly $2 million in compensation to a former inmate wrongly imprisoned for almost 40 years.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed a law giving 70-year-old Craig Richard Coley $140 for each day he was in prison.
Coley was wrongly convicted of killing his girlfriend, 24-year-old Rhonda Wicht of Simi Valley, and her 4-year-old son in 1978.
‘Worst Nightmare’ Lasts 13,991 Days
Brown pardoned him before Thanksgiving at the urging of Simi Valley’s police chief and Ventura County’s district attorney, who cited faulty evidence.
In addition, modern DNA tests suggested he was probably innocent.
When Brown pardoned Colely, the police chief and prosecutor said that they began reviewing the case in 2016 after a retired detective raised concerns with Coley’s guilt. DNA tests did not find Coley’s DNA but did find DNA from other people.
Coley previously said the money can’t make up for what he called the “worst nightmare” of spending 13,991 days in prison.
It’s the largest payment under California’s Erroneous Conviction Program, although there have been larger awards to crime victims through other programs.