The California Innocence Project (CIP) at California Western School of Law has won another major victory in its mission to free wrongfully convicted individuals. Guy Miles was released on June 20, having served more than 18 years in prison before entering a People v. West plea, allowing him to return home to his family while neither admitting nor contesting the original charges.
On June 29, 1998, three men robbed a small loan office in Fullerton, California. Two witnesses viewed six-pack photo lineups and made cross-racial identifications. Despite numerous witnesses placing him in Las Vegas at the time, Guy Miles was identified, charged, and convicted as one of the three robbers. He was sentenced to 75 years to life.
Miles wrote to CIP and requested assistance. CIP then initiated an investigation and uncovered not only unbiased alibi witnesses placing Miles in Las Vegas at the time of the crime, but the three true perpetrators came forward and admitted to committing the crime. All three of the perpetrators said Miles was not involved.
"This case highlights the classic problems with stranger-eyewitness identification. It is a shame it took so long to right this wrong," says Alissa Bjerkhoel '08, litigation coordinator at CIP. "Eighteen years means a lot of missed birthdays, holidays, weddings, and other cherished events. We are so ecstatic this nightmare has come to an end."
Despite presenting evidence of innocence at hearings in 2011 and 2013, Miles continued to sit in prison for a crime he did not commit.
"The California Innocence Project has believed in Guy Miles' innocence for the 15 years we have been litigating his case and we still believe that today," says Justin Brooks, CIP's executive director. "We fully support Guy's decision to plead no contest, avoid a new trial that could lead to a second wrongful conviction, and end the nightmare of wrongful incarceration for him and his family."
In January, California's Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed Miles' conviction, finding that the result of the original trial would have been different had the jury considered new evidence uncovered by CIP.