Indianapolis prosecutors and a California law school clinic worked together to free a man imprisoned for nearly 25 years for murder, according to reporting by The Indianapolis Star.
Officials released Leon Benson, 47, from the Correctional Industrial Facility in Pendleton, CA. An investigation revealed that police had failed to disclose key evidence, including an implication that someone else was guilty.
“It is so surreal. I just walked out of prison, literally, a few hours ago,” said Benson.
In July 1999, a court convicted Benson for the murder of Kasey Schoen, shot five times while sitting in his truck near downtown Indianapolis. As a result, the court sentenced Benson to 61 years in prison.
Laura Bazelon, an attorney for Benson and director of the Racial Justice Clinic at the University of San Francisco School of law, said that the case against Benson relied on a questionable identification by a witness. “There was no forensic or physical evidence,” Bazelon said.
In order to correct wrongful conviction, the prosecutor’s office created the Marion County Conviction Integrity Unit in 2021. Benson’s Exoneration was a result of the Integrity Unit as well as the Racial Justice Clinic.