After 13 years in prison, man found to be innocent could be freed
A California man could be released Tuesday afternoon after more than 13 years in prison for a crime a federal judge and the California Innocence Project say he didn’t commit.
Daniel Larsen is scheduled to appear in federal court in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon, where his attorneys hope he will be released after a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judge ordered his release in 2010.
Larsen was convicted in 1999 of carrying a concealed knife, a third strike for the twice-convicted burglar. Police claimed he had tossed the 6-inch blade under a car after a brawl in a Northridge bar.
Larsen has maintained his innocence throughout the years and eventually got the California Innocence Project to take up his cause. The organization found several witnesses –- including a former chief of police – who stated that they saw a different man throw away the knife, not Larsen.
Larsen’s defense attorney during his trial never called a witness in his defense. That attorney was eventually disbarred.
The Innocence Project filed an appeal under habeas corpus that eventually reached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That judge found Larsen to be “actually innocent,” a legal term that allows Larsen to be released from prison while his case works its way through the courts.
The judge found Larsen was not given an adequate defense. The state Attorney General’s office is fighting Larsen’s release on technicalities related to the filing of his appeals and maintains he is guilty.
Tuesday could be Larsen’s first taste of freedom since his conviction in 1999.
-- Joseph Serna
Photo: Brian Banks, center, carries petitions calling for the release of Daniel Larsen at a press conference in August 2012. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times