Bay Area man exonerated after 32 years in prison

A Bay Area man who spent more than three decades behind bars for a murder he did not commit will be set free soon, officials said.

Joaquin Ciria, 61, was arrested in 1990 and wrongfully convicted of shooting and killing his friend in San Francisco, said District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who dismissed the case against Ciria on Monday after a judge overturned his conviction.

"As a result of this wrongful conviction, the state stole 32 birthdays, 32 Christmases, 32 years in which he could not be with his son for all the special moments." said attorney Paige Kaneb. "Yet Joaquin has kept his big heart and easy smile, and is full of joy as he looks forward to starting his life again."

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Boudin said the conviction was based on false witness testimony and police misconduct.

Ciria’s case marks the first exoneration by the DA’s Innocence Commission, which was established by Boudin in 2020 to review potential wrongful conviction cases.

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"32 years ago, you were taken away from your wife and your baby, and that is because the system failed you catastrophically," said Lara Bazelon, chair of the commission. "Now at long last, you have a chance to take back your life."

Once he is out prison, Ciria said he will spend quality time with his son, his wife and longtime friends and supporters.