A California man convicted of attempted murder in 1990 has been declared innocent and released from prison.
Daniel Saldana, 55, was sentenced to 45 years in prison for allegedly shooting into a car containing six teenagers who were just leaving a high school football game on October 27, 1989. Two of the students were injured but survived, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said in a press release. Two people were said to have been the shooters, mistaking the teens for gang members.
Even though it was believed two people were the shooters, Saldana and two others were charged with six counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting at an occupied vehicle, the district attorney’s office said. Saldana, who was 22 at the time of the shooting and working full time as a construction worker, was convicted and sentenced to 45 years to life in state prison.
In 2017, one of the other men convicted of the crime said at his parole hearing that Saldana wasn’t involved in any way and wasn’t present for the shooting, according to the DA’s office. A former deputy district attorney who was present at the hearing reportedly did not share the information with Saldana or his attorney.
That information was finally shared with the DA’s office in February 2023, and the district attorney’s office launched an official investigation. The office’s Conviction Integrity Unit prioritized their investigation, and after a “thorough investigation,” along with an investigation by the DA’s office with the Baldwin Park Police Department, it was determined that Saldana had not committed the crime.
“As prosecutors, our duty is not simply to secure convictions but to seek justice. When someone is wrongfully convicted, it is a failure of our justice system and it is our responsibility to right that wrong. We owe it to the individual who was wrongfully convicted and to the public that justice is served,” Los Angeles District Attorney Gascón said in a statement.
At a press conference on Thursday, Saldana and Gascón discussed the exoneration, with Saldana saying he was grateful to those who set him free.
“It’s a struggle, every day waking up knowing you’re innocent and here I am locked up in a cell, crying for help,” Saldana said, according to CBS News.
Gascón also apologized to Saldana and his family.
“I know that this won’t bring you back the decades you endured in prison,” he said. “But I hope our apology brings some small comfort to you as you begin your new life.”
Gascón did not elaborate on what evidence concluded Saldana was innocent, and his office didn’t respond to a Daily Wire request for more information prior to press time.