Ocean Beach Lawyers of Innocence Project Help Free Man Imprisoned for 20 Years

by on October 17, 2018 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

Justin Brooks is an attorney who lives in Ocean Beach. He teaches at Cal Western School of Law in downtown San Diego and is also director of the California Innocence Project. The project works to free wrongly convicted and imprisoned people in state prisons. It receives requests for assistance from about 2,500 inmates each year.

Horace Roberts – in OB – throws his prison clothes away. Screen grab from Innocence Project video.

And just earlier this month, the Innocence Project helped to free Horace Roberts, who had been incarcerated for 20 years. He is the 29th prisoner freed by the group since its inception in 1999.

It was 15 years ago when the California Innocence Project, based at the California Western School, took on Roberts’ case. Lawyers and law students dug deep, but a break didn’t materialize until March when improved DNA testing showed crime-scene evidence exonerated Roberts and implicating others for the murder of Robert’s mistress in 1998.

And just this Monday, Oct. 15, Roberts was declared factually innocent by a Riverside County judge. A local DA then announced murder charges against two other men.

Once released, Roberts, 60, was brought to Ocean Beach – where he threw his prison clothes in the trash to applause from supporters. He then stayed in OB where his lawyers housed him. They then flew him to South Carolina, where he was reunited with his wife, three children and a grandson whom he’d never met.

Horace Roberts greeting relatives in South Carolina. Screen grab from CIP.

With the declaration of factual innocence, Roberts’ arrest records will be destroyed and he’ll receive $140 from the state for each day he was wrongfully imprisoned, which will amount to about $1 million.

Justin Brooks – in middle – and other members of the Innocence Project – in march from OB to Sacramento in 2013.

See the San Diego Union-Tribune piece for more on this tragedy with a happy ending; check out the Innocence Project video – it’s amazing.

The OB Rag covered the Innocence Project 5 years ago when it sponsored a march from OB to Sacramento to draw attention to those unjustly imprisoned.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

retired botanist October 17, 2018 at 4:50 pm

Great effort, great outcome! Kudos to The Innocence Project-way to be! :-)


Mike S October 18, 2018 at 1:12 pm

You may have seen us last week – I brought him on morning walks to the beach so he could see the ocean, feel the breeze, and take in the air. He loved OB and looks forward to coming back in the next year. #XONR8


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