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Law students help get man's 17-year-old murder conviction overturned

Murder conviction overturned

Loyola Law School students played a role in overturning the murder conviction of a man who has spent 17 years in prison for a killing outside a South L.A. brothel.

Students helped investigate Obie Anthony’s innocence claims since 2008, interviewing witnesses and conducting research. 

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Friday overturned Anthony's murder conviction for the killing -- a slaying that was prominently featured in a book about two LAPD homicide detectives.

The judge ordered that Anthony, 37, be released from prison after concluding that the prosecution's key witness, a pimp, lied to the jury. The witness has since admitted he never clearly saw the gunman at the scene of the crime.

“We are thrilled that this day has finally come,” said Professor Laurie Levenson, founding faculty director of the school's Project for the Innocent. “I couldn’t be more proud of our Loyola students. They worked tirelessly to achieve justice for Obie Anthony.”

Judge Kelvin D. Filer harshly criticized the prosecutors who handled the 1995 murder trial for failing to disclose to the jury that they had made a deal with the witness, John Jones, agreeing to seek a light sentence on pimping and pandering charges in exchange for his testimony against Anthony and a co-defendant, Reggie Cole.

Cole, who won release months ago after another judge overturned his murder conviction on similar grounds, leaped to his feet in the Compton courtroom and shouted "Yeah!" when it became clear Filer was about to free Anthony. "I'm overwhelmed, man, it's been a long time coming," he said after the ruling.

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-- Jack Dolan

Photo: Obie Anthony reacts after Judge Kelvin D. Filer overturned his conviction Friday and ordered that he be released. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

 
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