County of Conviction: Los Angeles
Convicted of: Possession of a Concealed Weapon
Sentence: 28 Years to Life
Years Served: 13 Years
Released: March 19, 2013
Cost of Wrongful Incarceration*: $1,055,639
*According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office 2018-19 annual costs per CA inmate
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Years Served: 13
In 1999, Daniel (“Danny”) Larsen was convicted of possession of a concealed weapon after two police officers testified they saw him toss a knife under a nearby car in the parking lot of a bar. Danny’s now-disbarred trial attorney failed to discover as many as nine percipient witnesses, including a former Chief of Police from North Carolina, who saw another man, not Danny, toss the knife. Danny’s trial attorney did not call a single witness, and as a result, Danny was convicted and sentenced to 27 years-to-life in prison pursuant to California’s Three Strikes Law (Danny had prior convictions that occurred nearly a decade earlier).
During the California Innocence Project’s (CIP) post-conviction investigation, CIP gathered statements from many of these witnesses and presented the evidence to the California courts who summarily denied each petition. Then, CIP went to federal court. 11 years after his conviction, a federal district court held an extensive hearing. The court found that Danny was innocent, the police officers who testified at his trial were not credible, and his trial attorney was constitutionally ineffective for failing to call witnesses on his behalf. Danny’s conviction was reversed and the court ordered him released.
Before his release, the Attorney General appealed the judge’s ruling, arguing that even if Danny was innocent, his conviction should not be reversed because he waited too long to file his petition. Almost three years later, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Attorney General’s appeal.
In March of 2013, in Los Angeles, Federal Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal ordered Daniel Larsen’s immediate release.