Today in Wrongful Conviction History: February 9th

Alejandra de la Fuente — February 9, 2017 @ 1:53 PM — Comments (0)

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Today is the exoneration anniversary of Tim Atkins from Los Angeles, California.

In 1987, Tim Atkins went to trial for the armed robbery of Vincente and Maria Gonzalez that resulted in the murder of Vincente. He and Ricky Evans were arrested and charged with murder and armed robbery after a woman named Denise Powell told police she heard the two street gang members bragging about the crime.

While Evans was assaulted and killed in jail in 1985, Atkins waited two years for his trial. Once it began, Powell could not be located to testify. Despite this, her testimony from the preliminary hearing was presented to the jury as a confession. Maria also identified Atkins as the man who stole her necklace at the scene of the crime. Due to this, Atkins was sentenced to 32 years to life in prison.

In 2001, Atkins wrote to the California Innocence Project where a law student found Powell at a drug rehabilitation center. When approached, Powell admitted her testimony was false. Not only did she confess to lying about overhearing a confession, Powell said police threatened to charge her with a narcotics offense if she didn’t provide information about the two suspects.

In 2007, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Tynan granted Atkins’ a new trial and on February 9th, he was released. While he was cleared of all charges, the state did not grant Atkin’s compensation as they felt he did not wholly prove his innocence.

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