COMPTON — Attorneys for a man wrongly convicted of shooting a man to death 21 years ago announced Monday that an $8.3 million settlement has been reached with the city of Los Angeles.
Lawyers for Obie Steven Anthony III said during a news conference at Compton Superior Court that their client received a settlement that may be the largest in a wrongful imprisonment case in California history.
“Finally, after 21 years of fighting to establish my innocence and to vindicate my rights, this painful chapter of my life is over,” Anthony said.
“I spent 17 1/2 years in prison fighting for my release. Then I spent more years trying to get justice the right way.”
Anthony said he is not the only one who has served time behind bars for a crime he did not commit.
“There are a lot of innocent people still rotting in jail, whose voices are not yet heard,” he said. “I am fighting for those people and telling them not to give up because the truth has a way of getting out no matter what people try to do to you.”
Attorney David McLane, on behalf of Anthony, said illegal methods used by Los Angeles police resulted in his conviction.
“Their dereliction of duty, or worse, resulted in Mr. Anthony spending 17 years in jails and prisons, years he never should have spent and cannot ever recover,” McLane said. “While nothing can replace those years, hopefully this settlement will allow Obie to build a new life. Unfortunately, the real killers … remain at large.”
McLane said police withheld from the defense evidence that could have exonerated Anthony.
“This case is very important because it holds the authorities accountable when they violate the rules requiring them to provide defendants all information that can help their defense,” McLane said. “In Mr. Anthony’s case, the information the authorities suppressed where there was no physical evidence would have led to his acquittal and not to his conviction.”
Anthony and a second defendant were convicted in the shooting death of Felipe Gonzales in 1994. The second defendant, Reggie Cole, was released in 2009. The Northern California Innocence Project and Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent obtained Anthony’s release from prison in 2011.