He spent three decades in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. Now at 61, this San Francisco man will be freed.

Joaquin Ciria has spent more than half his life in prison for the death of a friend in San Francisco, a tragedy he has always denied committing. Ciria was absolved on Monday, precisely 32 years after his arrest, after a lengthy examination and inquiry by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Innocence Commission, according to San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin in an online statement.

In 1991, the 61-year-old was found guilty of murder in the shooting death of Felix Bastarrica. Despite the fact that there was no tangible proof tying Ciria to the murder, San Francisco police inspectors centered on him “based on reports on the street and remarks of the getaway driver, George Varela,” according to the district attorney.

According to the Northern California Innocence Project, Bastarrica was murdered by a mutual associate of Varela and Ciria. In return for total immunity, Verala stated he drove Ciria to and from the crime site, but was under intense stress from police at the time to identify Ciria, although Ciria having two alibi witnesses who were never heard at preliminary, according to the district attorney.

After more than 30 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit, Joaquin Ciria was released from a San Francisco prison Tuesday afternoon after a judge overturned his conviction and District Attorney Chesa Boudin dismissed his case.

Posted by ABC7 News on Wednesday, April 20, 2022

“It’s quite difficult, you know? Seeing your child; having your son taken away. It’s heartbreaking to watch your child grow up on his own “Yojana Paiz, Ciria’s mother expressed “But now we’ve arrived. We’ve arrived at the finish. He’s going to go. Whatever God has in store for us, we must embrace it.” Paiz stated that she had been in contact with her son through regular visits and phone calls after Ciria’s arrest.

Ciria’s attorneys, Ellen Eggers and Paige Kaneb of the Northern California Innocence Project, presented his case to the DA’s Innocence Commission for consideration, and after a four-month inquiry, Boudin decided to absolve Ciria. According to the district attorney, new information given by Ciria’s defence team proved that he was guilty based on fraudulent testimony for another man’s wrongdoing. Ciria’s case was the first to be examined by the Innocence Commission since its inception in 2020.

“Promoting justice in our judicial system necessitates not only moving forward but also looking back,” Boudin explained. “Wrongful convictions generate a circular circle of harm: to the unfairly sentenced, to crime victims who were presented a false tale and re-traumatized, to jurors who inadvertently participated in the injustice, and to the system’s integrity as a whole. When somebody is wrongfully convicted, it is the responsibility of prosecutors to right the wrong.”

Ciria is presently being held at the San Francisco County prison after being transferred from Folsom Prison last week, according to Eggers, and is scheduled to be freed within the next week.Ciria is qualified to monetary compensation under California state law, at a rate of $140 per day for the 32 years he spent in jail, amounting to little more than $1.6 million, according to the California Victim Compensation Board.

“As a consequence of this false conviction, the State robbed 32 birthdays, 32 Christmases, and 32 years when he couldn’t be with his kid for all of the key times,” Kaneb said in an online statement. “Yet Joaquin has preserved his huge heart and easy grin, and he is full of excitement as he prepares to restart his life.”

Hoping the best for Ciria. May he have a peaceful and happy life ahead. 

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