We hear many stories about how DNA convicts the right criminal, but this story is a little different. Instead of convicting the criminal, DNA has cleared Maurice Hastings of murder charges that have kept him behind bars for 38 years.
Hastings was tied to the murder of Roberta Wydermyer, who had made a late-night supermarket trip and was abducted, sexually assaulted, and killed.
Hastings endured two trials, the second of which the jury proclaimed him guilty of murder. The prosecutor recommended the death penalty, but the juror opted for life in prison with no parole.
However, Hastings sought his innocence through his decades in prison. In 2000, the District Attorney denied Hastings’ request for DNA testing of semen found on an oral swab of the victim in 1983.
Finally, the DA allowed genetic testing of the sample in June, proving Hastings’ innocence. Instead, Wydermyer’s tragic death was tied to another prisoner who had passed away in 2020.
LA County District Attorney George Gascon described his conviction as a “terrible injustice” and apologized for the judicial system failing him.
Hastings can now appeal for wrongful imprisonment. Hastings would receive $1.9 million if granted, but he says he’s looking forward to having dinner with his family.
It might not be your typical reunification story, but everyone is glad to have Hastings reunited with his family.
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