California man cleared in shooting and freed after 33 years in prison

A wrongfully convicted man is acquitted after serving 33 years in prison.

A wrongfully convicted man is acquitted after serving 33 years in prison.


A California man who spent 33 years in prison for attempted murder has been acquitted, the Los Angeles County district attorney announced Thursday.

Daniel Saldana, 55, was convicted in 1990 of opening fire on a car containing six teenagers leaving a high school football game in Baldwin Park, east of Los Angeles. Two students were injured but survived.

Officials said the attackers mistook the youth for gang members.

Saldana was 22 years old at the time of the shooting and worked full-time as a construction worker. He was one of three people accused of the attack. Convicted of six counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting into an occupied vehicle, Saldana was sentenced to 45 years to life in state prison.

Saldana appeared with District Attorney George Gascon at a press conference Thursday announcing her acquittal. He said he was grateful to be released.

Daniel Saldana at a May 25, 2023 news conference.

CBS Los Angeles

“It’s a struggle, waking up every day knowing you’re innocent and I’m locked in a cell here, crying for help,” Saldana said, Southern California News Group reported.

But, “I just knew it was going to happen one day,” Saldana said. According to CBS Los Angeles. “I’m very grateful. I just thank God.”

The DA said Gascon’s office began investigating in February after learning that another convicted assailant told authorities during a 2017 parole hearing that Saldana “was not involved in the shooting in any way and that he was not present during the incident”.

Gascon said a former deputy district attorney was present at the hearing “but apparently did nothing” and failed to share required information with Saldana or her attorney.

That led to Saldana spending six more years in prison before the DA’s office reopened the case and found him not guilty, Gascon said.

The district attorney did not disclose other details of the case but apologized to Saldana and his family.

“I know it won’t bring you back the decades you’ve endured in prison,” he said. “But I hope our apology gives you some comfort as you begin your new life.”

Gascon added: “Not only is it a tragedy that people are forced to go to prison for a crime they did not commit, but whenever an injustice of this magnitude is committed, the real culprits are still Others are out to commit crimes.”

And while disappointed that the information took so long to reach his office, Gascon stressed the importance that justice was finally served, reports CBS Los Angeles.

“As prosecutors, our duty is not simply to deliver sentences but to seek justice,” he said in a statement. “When someone is wrongfully convicted, that is a failure of our justice system and it is our responsibility to right that wrong. We have a responsibility to the individual who is wrongfully convicted and to provide justice to the public.” done.”

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