Long Beach to pay $8M for wrongful conviction

LONG BEACH, Calif. Thomas Goldstein, 61, has spent more than a third of his life behind bars for a murder he did not commit. He spent 24 years in prison before being released in 2004.

"I'd like to thank the taxpayers of Long Beach for this structured settlement of $7.95 million," Goldstein said.

Goldstein is grateful, but says no amount of money can repay him for the years he lost in some of California's worst prisons.

The former marine was convicted in the 1979 shotgun murder of a drug dealer not far from Goldstein's rented Long Beach home at the time.

"The conviction was based on two key pieces of evidence," said Goldstein's attorney, Barrett Litt. "An informant who later turned out had a deal he lied about in exchanged for his testimony, and an eyewitness who was coached to tell police that Mr. Goldstein was the person who committed the murder."

An appeals court found there was no physical evidence that Goldstein committed the crime. The court determined that testimony from the two witnesses had been unreliable.

Goldstein's lawsuit claimed misconduct by Long Beach police detectives, which included alleged attempts to sway eyewitness testimony.

"In this case, there was a clear deal that was given to the informant," said Attorney Ron Kaye. "No ifs, ands or buts and the jury never heard about this deal."

"Long Beach is not alone in their abuses," Goldstein said. "Around the country there are other wrongful convicted individuals that are being released every day."

Goldstein said he will donate part of his settlement money to organizations that work on behalf of those wrongfully convicted.

"I hope that I can be an inspiration to those who are still struggling to prove their innocence," Goldstein said.

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