Photo: Getty
  /  10.30.2022

A California man was freed on Friday (Oct. 28) after serving nearly 40 years for a crime he did not commit.

Maurice Hastings had been incarcerated since 1983 after he was arrested in connection with the murder of Roberta Wydermyer. The victim, who was also raped, was fatally shot in the head and found in the trunk of her vehicle in Inglewood. 

Hastings was charged with special-circumstance murder. According to NBC News, Hastings, now 69 years old, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after a grand jury convicted him in 1988. He was previously found guilty by a jury that was unable to agree on whether he should be given a life sentence or the death penalty.

From the time of his arrest, Hastings maintained his innocence. With the help of the Los Angeles Innocence Project at California State University, Los Angeles, his fight for justice came to a victorious end; on Oct. 20, the life sentence was vacated.

In 2000, Hastings’ request to have his DNA tested against the evidence collected from the victim was denied. According to NPR, last summer, his request was resubmitted. The results proved the semen found on the victim did not match his DNA. Wydermyer’s actual murderer was a man who had been incarcerated for a similar crime. He passed away in 2020.

“I prayed for many years that this day would come. I’m not pointing fingers. I’m not standing up here a bitter man. But I just want to enjoy my life while I have it,” Hastings said during a news conference on Friday.   

“We no longer have any confidence in the veracity of the case against Mr. Hastings,” District Attorney George Gascón said. “You are a free man today because of your perseverance.”

Gascón added: “What has happened to Mr. Hastings is a terrible injustice. The justice system is not perfect, and when we learn of new evidence which causes us to lose confidence in a conviction, it is our obligation to act swiftly.”



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