After 36 years of wrongful incarceration, Michael Hanline's murder conviction was reversed in Ventura County Superior Court. Today he took his first steps into freedom with Sandee, his wife of 36 years, by his side.
Attorneys for the California Innocence Project who had worked over 10 years on Hanline's release were with him. His day began in a cage in Ventura Superior Court, where he stood before the judge to hear the conditons of his release. A low bail was set, but he was ordered to wear an electronic ankle bracelet while the prosecutor's office decides whether to re-try him for murder. His next court appearance is set for late February 2015.
The prosecutor's office indicated in a statement that DNA evidence that helped exonerate Hanline may implicate other individuals in the murder case. Hanline was somewhat at a loss for words, expressing his gratitude to his attorneys, and mentioning the other wrongfully incarcerated in America's prisons. "I didn't think this could happen in America," he said. "But it did."
Justin Brooks, director of California Innocence Project, was beaming as he escorted Hanline out of prison, ending what was the longest prison term served by a wrongly convicted man in the state of California.