Ten days into the new year, Quentin Morris walked out of Folsom State Prison. Last August, Governor Brown commuted his sentence to 25 years to life, allowing Morris a chance for a parole date. When released, he had served 27 years for a crime he didn’t commit..
Morris was convicted of shooting at four teenagers in the Pacoima area of the San Fernando Valley in November of 1991, according to the Associated Press.
At his trial, one teenager identified Morris as the gun- man despite the fact that the true shooter was masked during the attack. Though there was no accompanying physical evidence, the testimony led a jury to convict him in 1994. He was sentenced to 33 years to life.
All the while, Morris and his attorney maintained his innocence. They claim Morris and his friends were stopped by police at a red light near the shooting while making a beer run for a par- ty.
The AP noted that Morris’s trial judge, Michael Hoff, displayed doubt as to the validity of the evidence in the case, asking the prosecution to consider dismissing the charges in their entirety. Hoff briefly overturned the conviction in 1994, but the district attorney’s office reaffirmed it on appeal.
In 2000, Morris was advised by a federal judge to seek clemency on the grounds that a federal court had “significant doubt” as to whether he committed the crime.
Governor Brown’s commutation statement, accord- ing to the AP, revealed Judge Hoff’s support of clemency for Morris in 2013. Hoff recently told a parole board, “I don’t think he did it.”
The governor’s report also noted the lack of physical evidence and motive, combined with the confession of another man in 2000, who insists to this day that he was the shooter.
All these facts validated the commutation, prompting the governor to release the innocent man after 27 years.
“I feel good. I feel good,” Morris repeated after his release, according to Michael Semanchik, managing attorney of the California Innocence Project.
“It was surreal watching Quentin walk out of prison after more than 27 years for a crime he did not do…To think about three decades worth of holidays, birthdays, graduations, births, and other significant events he missed is pretty over- whelming,” declared Alissa Bjerkhoel, Morris’ lead attorney.
Quentin will likely spend the next six-months in an L.A. halfway house, readjusting to society.
Semanchik told the AP, “He has a lot of PTSD. He has to live on the outside again.”
The outside: a place that, given his wrongful conviction, Morris should never left.