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Californian man gets $21m compensation for wrongful conviction

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A Californian man identified as Craig Coley, got a $21m compensation for wrongful conviction which saw him spend 39 years in prison.

Coley was accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend Rhonda Wicht, 24, and her son Donald Wicht, 4, at their home in Simi Valley on Nov. 11, 1978. The two were found dead in their beds at their apartment on Buyers Street. She was apparently strangled by a macrame rope and her son was smothered.

Coley was arrested later that day. He was tried twice for the crime after a jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of conviction on April 12, 1979.

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A second jury found Coley guilty on Jan. 3, 1980. He was sentenced on Feb. 26, 1980, to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

However with the help of advocacy groups such as the Innocence Project, the case was reopened and the Californian man whose prison sentence was upturned got $21m compensation for the wrongful conviction.

“While no amount of money can make up for what happened to Mr. Coley, settling this case is the right thing to do for him and our community,” City Manager Eric Levitt said in a statement, adding that going to trial would be costly and irresponsible.

The settlement allows the city to avoid a potentially long and costly court trial, Levitt said. Of the $21 million, the city will pay approximately $4.9 million, with the remainder to be paid by insurance and other sources.

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