Man declared innocent in South LA murder after serving nearly 20 years in prison

Shayla Girardin Image
Thursday, March 14, 2024
Man declared innocent in LA murder after nearly 20 years in prison
A man who spent nearly 20 years behind bars for a South L.A. murder he did not commit was declared factually innocent and ordered to be released from custody.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It's been nearly 20 years since Stephen Patterson went to prison for a crime he did not commit. On Wednesday, he walked out a free man.

Patterson was declared factually innocent and ordered to be released from custody after his murder conviction was overturned for a 16-year-old boy's killing in South Los Angeles in 2005.

He was wrongfully convicted of a gang shooting and murder in 2007 after he was incorrectly identified by a witness as one of the shooters.

"This was the only evidence that was available at the time," L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón said to media as Patterson stood by his side. "There was no physical evidence. There were other witnesses that actually contradicted or were not able to identify Mr. Patterson."

Despite having an alibi, he was convicted and spent nearly two decades in prison.

His mother hired a private investigator until the Innocence Center took up the case.

"If you know the truth then you stand by them because my family - good people and so is my son," Patterson's mother Joann Pryor said.

Patterson has always maintained his innocence.

"This was a long time coming," Patterson told reporters. "I had a lot that I wanted to say today, especially for the people still waiting on their turn to be free who have been falsely imprisoned."

Now he says hopes to find a job and spend more time with his family.

"My life was given back to me," he said.

The exoneration is the 13th under Gascón's administration.

The Innocence Center says they've identified two men who committed the murder and submitted that information to the DA's office.

City News Service contributed to this report.