In Los Angeles, a man has just been declared innocent after having spent 38 years in prison, for a crime which he claimed to have never committed in 1983. DNA tests allowed his release.
It’s a whole new life that will be offered to him, even if rehabilitation in today’s society may be tricky as the world has changed over the past forty years.
Whatever, Maurice Hastings is a free man and above all, finally cleared, after spending 38 years behind bars for a crime he claimed he never committed. He had been released last October after the revelation of DNA tests which then cleared him of any responsibility for a crime committed in 1983.
It was 40 years ago that Maurice Hastings’ life had turned into a nightmare. A sordid affair in which a woman, Roberta Wydermyer, was sexually assaulted and then killed by a shot in the head. His body was found in the trunk of his vehicle in Inglewood, a suburb of Los Angeles.
Maurice Hastings was then arrested under special circumstances and risked the death penalty. Eventually, in 1988, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole or remission.
Maurice Hastings has always claimed his innocence and taken all possible steps to reopen the investigation. During the victim’s autopsy, the medical examiner found semen on an oral sample.
Maurice Hastings then asked to do a DNA test in 2000 but the request was refused. Then, in 2021, he had filed a new request for innocence with the prosecutor’s office and there, the DNA test then proved his innocence.
In reality, the DNA of the semen found belonged to another suspect, a certain Kenneth Packnett, who died in prison in 2020. The latter had been convicted of kidnapping and raping a woman in the trunk of a car.
“I just want to enjoy my life now, while I have it”
Finally free and cleared at 69, Maurice Hastings will have spent more than half of his life in prison for a crime he had never committed: “I am not a bitter man, but I just want to enjoy my life now, as long as I have it. I am ready to move forward, I am a happy man,” he said after his innocence was recognized.
Maurice Hastings was able to count on the support of his lawyers, of the “Los Angeles Innocence Project” which specializes in defending the rights of people wrongly accused and imprisoned so that they obtain justice and reparation.
The district attorney praised the perseverance and patience of Maurice Hastings during all these years: “He spent four decades in prison, using all means to prove his innocence, despite constant refusals. But he remained steadfast and hopeful that one day a judge would find his innocence . ”
Maurice Hastings will now be able to enjoy happy days and enjoy life, with the undoubtedly enormous compensation that will be due to him after being wrongfully imprisoned for 38 years.