DA exonerates 2 wrongfully convicted men who served decades in prison for murders in LA County

Thursday, December 14, 2023
Gascón exonerates 2 wrongfully accused men who served years in prison
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced the exonerations of two men who were serving extensive prison sentences for killings that prosecutors now say they did not commit.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón on Wednesday announced the exonerations of two men who were serving extensive prison sentences for killings that prosecutors now say they did not commit.

Gascón, during a downtown news conference, formally apologized to Giovanni Hernandez and Miguel Solorio.

"It's truly devastating when people are wrongfully convicted, especially when they were so young at the time of their arrest," Gascón said "In the case of Mr. Solorio, he was 19 years old. Mr. Hernandez was just 14 years old.

"These cases not only highlight the tragic impact on the lives of those directly affected but also underline the impact to the family and friends left behind. I am committed to ensuring that lessons are learned from this grave error, and that steps are taken to prevent similar injustices from occurring in the future."

Hernandez was arrested and later convicted for a 2006 drive-by shooting in Culver City that killed 16-year-old Gary Ortiz, according to the District Attorney's Office. He initially submitted a claim for a review of his case to the District Attorney's Conviction Integrity Unit in 2015, but it was denied. Another claim was submitted in 2021 with the help of the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic at Loyola Law School.

According to the D.A.'s Office, the ensuing investigation "resulted in new exculpatory evidence and new statements from witnesses previously not interviewed or contacted at the time of the original investigation." The investigation also reviewed cell phone records showing Hernandez was not at the location of the shooting, while backing his insistence he was home at the time, prosecutors said.

Solorio was arrested in 1998 for a drive-by shooting in Whittier that killed 81-year-old Mary Bramlett. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

According to Gascón's office, Solorio was assisted by the Northern California Innocence Project in his appeal for a review of his case, and that review "led to the conclusion that Solorio was misidentified as his brother Pedro Solorio in a photo lineup."

Speaking at the news conference Wednesday, Solorio spoke about the possibility of errors in the use of photo lineups, saying other prisoners who were convicted through the use of such a process should have their cases reviewed.