SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - In a story Aug. 26 about lawsuits by two exonerated murder defendants, The Associated Press reported erroneously the name of one of the sheriff’s investigators accused of withholding evidence. His name is Gilbert Parra, not Eric Parra.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Court OKs lawsuits against Los Angeles sheriff’s officials
Court: Los Angeles sheriff’s officials can be held liable if they withheld evidence
By SUDHIN THANAWALA
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators can he held liable if they withheld evidence favoring two defendants who were later exonerated in murder cases, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allows lawsuits brought by Francisco Carrillo and Frank O’Connell against three sheriff’s officials to proceed.
The appeals court said the sheriff’s officials - Craig Ditsch, J.D. Smith and Gilbert Parra - were not immune from possible liability because the law at the time of their investigations clearly established that they had to turn over evidence that could clear the defendants.
The judge who later overturned O’Connell’s conviction cited notes that Smith and Parra had failed to turn over showing one witness identified someone other than O’Connell in a photo lineup and investigators had come up with another possible suspect.
Carrillo’s conviction was overturned after five of the six eyewitnesses who testified against him recanted.
In a police report, Ditsch wrote that one witness had selected Carrillo’s photo but he did not mention the witness had first selected photos of other individuals, the 9th Circuit said
Any reasonable officer would have known that the evidence the three officials were accused of withholding had to be disclosed, Circuit Judge Raymond Fisher wrote for the three-judge panel.
An attorney at the law firm representing the sheriff’s officials referred comment to Jonathan McCaverty, an attorney for Los Angeles County. A message for McCaverty was not immediately returned.
Courts overturned O’Connell’s conviction in 2012 and Carrillo’s conviction in 2011. Both men had spent years in prison.
O’Connell was convicted in 1985 of murder in the death of Jay French. O’Connell had been romantically involved with French’s wife, according to the 9th Circuit’s ruling.
Carrillo was convicted in 1992 of killing Donald Sarpy in a drive-by shooting in Lynwood.
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