Los Angeles man exonerated after serving 7 years for crime he did not commit

Derrick Harris was released after his co-defendant signed a declaration that he wasn't part of the 2013 robbery.

Derrick Harris has been released from prison after serving nearly half of a 15-year sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. 

Harris was convicted of second-degree robbery, possession of a firearm and disobeying a court order after a witness identified him as one of two men who pulled a handgun on him in July 2013 and robbed him of a gold chain necklace. 


Harris was freed seven years after the crime with the help of the California Innocence Project. His conviction was vacated, his case was disarmed with prejudice, and on the record, he was found “factually innocent” of the crime. 

The organization submitted a claim of factual innocence that included a written statement from the second suspect in the case indicating that Harris did not commit the robbery with him. 

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A report from KTLA 5 notes that the District Attorney’s Office Conviction Review Unit interviewed that second suspect and gleaned evidence that led to the identification of a new suspect and his subsequent confession. 

The new suspect will not be charged, however, because the statute of limitations has expired. 

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In a statement, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey wrote that Harris’ “case underscores the important ethical duty of every prosecutor to continue to seek justice, even if it requires us to admit that a mistake was made.” 

She expressed gratitude to the man who told the truth. 

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Lacey established the office’s first Conviction Review Unit in 2015 as part of her commitment to criminal justice reform. Since its inception, the department has received more than 1,960 wrongful conviction claims. While most of them have not met the eligibility criteria, four convictions have now been vacated, and one sentence was reduced. 

Currently, there are 55 pending claims in various stages of the review process, according to the statement. 

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Upon his release, Harris told local media outlets he felt “blessed,” maintaining that his release from prison was “a long time coming.”

“My son was two when I left,” Harris said. “He’s nine now. I’m just happy.”

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