Distressed Patriotic Flag Unisex T-Shirt - Celebrate Comfort and Country $11.29 USD Get it here>>
OAN Roy Francis
12:51 PM PT – Thursday, March 2, 2023
A 69-year-old Los Angeles man who was imprisoned for nearly four decades has been declared innocent of the crime he was originally charged with.
Maurice Hastings, was released from prison in October 2022 after DNA evidence led investigators to a different suspect. The judge overturned Hastings’ conviction at the request of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office along with lawyers form the Los Angeles Innocence Project.
The crime for which Hastings was charged with was the sexual assault and murder, with a single shot to the back of the head, of Roberta Wydermyer, who was later found in the trunk of her vehicle in Inglewood in 1983.
The 69-year-old had been charged with special-circumstance murder, with prosecutors seeking the death penalty. The first jury had deadlocked, but the second jury convicted him and he was subsequently sentenced to life in prison in 1988, without the possibility of parole.
When the autopsy was performed on the victim, the coroner had conducted a sexual assault exam where a DNA sample was collected in an oral swab. Hastings had pursued a DNA test in 2000 but was denied by the DA’s office. In 2021, Hastings submitted a claim of innocence and testing was conducted on the DNA sample, which found that it did not belong to him.
The sample was put into a database and matched with Kenneth Packnett who had been convicted of armed kidnapping and forced copulation of a female victim, who was also placed in the trunk of her vehicle. Packnett had died in prison in 2020.
Hastings was released from prison in October, but returned on Wednesday and asked judged William C. Ryan to declare him officially innocent of the killing. The judge then declared him as “factually innocent” which means the evidence conclusively proves him as innocent of the crime.
“It means a lot. I’m grateful for the judge’s ruling, and the apologies — everything has been wonderful today,” Hastings said, according to the Los Angeles Innocence Project. “I’m ready to move on with my life. I’m a happy man today. I am not standing up here a bitter man, but I just want to enjoy my life now while I have it.”