California Innocence Project (CIP) client Kimberly Long’s years-long legal battle ended April 22 when her case was dismissed after the Riverside District Attorney’s Office chose not to re-prosecute.
Long spent seven years in prison for a crime she did not commit before her conviction was reversed. She then spent four years out on bail while her case went through the appeals process, which ended in November of last year with a unanimous decision from the California Supreme Court to uphold the reversal of her conviction.
The District Attorney’s decision not to retry Long brings an end to this legal saga.
“Since Alissa Bjerkhoel and Michelle Rogers won a unanimous ruling from the California Supreme Court throwing out Kimberly's conviction, we've been engaged in a lengthy investigation and negotiation process with the Riverside District Attorney's Office,” said Justin Brooks, Director of the California Innocence Project, a clinical program of California Western. “That ended today with a dismissal of the case.”
“Kim is free and exonerated,” added Brooks. “Congrats and thanks to my entire team, all of the California Western students who have worked on this case over the years, and everyone involved in making this day happen!”
Last November, the California Supreme Court threw out Kimberly Long’s murder conviction, deciding that if the jury had heard new evidence developed by CIP, including new time of death analysis, the jury would not have convicted her. In its decision, the Court wrote, “The [trial] court ruled that expert testimony estimating time of death before [Long] arrived home ‘could reasonably raise a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors’ and ‘could be fatal to the People’s case.’ Applying our independent judgment, we agree.”
Long was released in 2016 after her trial judge, Riverside Superior Court Judge Magers, reversed her conviction, finding the result of the trial would have been different had the jury heard from a time of death expert about when the victim, Long’s live-in boyfriend, died.
Despite an appeal by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office Long was released on bail that year. The Court of Appeal reversed the Superior Court decision. The California Supreme Court then reversed the Court of Appeal, sending the case back to the beginning of the process.
“I am grateful to the Riverside District Attorney’s Office for making the decision not to re-prosecute,” said Brooks. “Considering the evidence in this case it was the right decision.”
Despite the years-long legal battle, Long has been gainfully employed and enjoying her freedom to the best of her ability since her release.
“I’m so happy I can now put this case behind me and move on with my life,” said Long. “It’s been hanging over my head for so long, but now I am just looking to the future.”
About the California Innocence Project
The California Innocence Project is a California Western School of Law clinical program dedicated to the release of wrongfully convicted inmates and providing an outstanding educational experience for students enrolled in the clinic. The California Innocence Project receives approximately 1,500 claims from inmates each year and has freed 35 wrongfully convicted clients since its inception. Read more at: https://CaliforniaInnocenceProject.org