Wrongly convicted inmate speaks out on $10M settlement with LA County

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A wrongly convicted inmate who spent 20 years in prison is speaking out about a $10.1 million settlement, an historic sum in the state of California.

"For too long I was marginalized as a murderer," Franky Carrillo said at a news conference at Loyola Marymount University, which aided his legal battle.

The settlement followed a lawsuit that blamed then-detective Craig Ditsch and members of an internal Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department "gang" known as the Lynwood Vikings, including the man who would become undersheriff, Paul Tanaka.

"He was there. He was briefed, and then they hunted me like an animal," Carrillo said.

Carrillo, a teenager when he was arrested, was released in March 2011 after the court found evidence that he had been framed through coerced testimony.

Now a graduate of Loyola Marymount, Carrillo named others who were also teens who he believes were wrongly arrested by the same cluster of detectives.

As Carrillo calls for reforms he said he's shocked and pleased by an apology he has received from the present sheriff, Jim McDonnell.

The sheriff's statement said in part: "Ensuring that criminal investigations are thorough, unbiased and accurate is critical to maintaining public trust. It is unacceptable for any person to be improperly convicted of a crime. Although the criminal justice system will never be perfect, my expectations of Sheriff's personnel are that investigations are of the highest quality, serve the interests of justice impartially, and are consistent with proven investigative methods."

Still Carrillo and his legal team blast sheriff's officials and the DA that delayed Carrillo's release, even after the court had cleared him.

"This agreement with the DA's office was based on liability, was based on fear of money damages to the Sheriff's department," says Carrillo's lawyer Ron O. Kaye.

Not forgotten is the brother of Ed Sarpy who was killed in the 1991 drive-by shooting blamed on Carrillo.

"I am still in shackles," Sarpy said. "I am still bound. Where is my apology?"

He along with Carrillo and supporters want to know what the Sheriff's Department is doing now to find the killer that has been on the loose all the time Carrillo was behind bars.
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