A California man was recently exonerated of his murder conviction after spending 19 years in prison. John Edward Smith of Los Angeles, who had been sentenced to a life term for the murder of a gang member in 1995, was represented by Innocence Matters, an organization that works on wrongful conviction cases. After taking Smith’s case, Innocence Matters discovered that Landu Mvuemba, the lone witness who had identified Smith as the killer during the trial, had recanted his testimony and later said he had felt pressured by police to perjure himself.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Mvuemba “told Smith’s lawyers that LAPD detectives had pressured him into the identification and that he had tried on a number of occasions over the years to alert authorities about his false statements. . . . He said the police had come to his school two months after the shooting, handcuffed him and brought him to a police station, where they told him Smith had already been identified as the gunman. They wanted him to do the same. . . . Mvuemba said he soon regretted it and reported his concerns to LAPD internal affairs twice. He even told the courtroom bailiff as he prepared to take the witness stand, he said. No one did anything, he said.”
Even though Smith had testified that he and three other people were at his grandmother’s house three miles away from the murder scene, the jury believed Mveumba’s testimony and convicted Smith of murder and attempted murder.
Judge Patricia Schnegg set aside Smith’s conviction after the district attorney’s office had completed its investigation into the matter and determined that Mvuemba had lied on the stand.
If you are in need of criminal defense lawyer in California, please contact the Fresno based law firm of Hammerschmidt Broughton Law Corporation. Our attorneys can be reached at (559) 772-4614. We are also on the Web at www.hbcriminaldefense.com.