Man acquitted after 33 years in prison for Baldwin Park attempted murder: Gascón

A man who’s been in state prison for more than three decades is innocent of the attempted murder charge for which he was convicted, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón.

A statement from Gascón’s office released on Thursday said Daniel Saldana, who was convicted in 1990, was not among the shooters who fired at six high schoolers in 1989 after mistaking them for gang members in Baldwin Park.

Two of those teens were shot and survived.

Saldana, who was 22 and working as a construction at the time, was convicted of six counts of attempted murder and a charge of firing at an occupied vehicle.

In a 2017 parole hearing, however, information emerged that indicated Saldana was not present for the attack and was not involved in any way.

After an investigation, Gascón’s office determined Saldana had been falsely convicted.

“As prosecutors, our duty is not simply to secure convictions but to seek justice,” Gascón said in a statement. “When someone is wrongfully convicted, it is a failure of our justice system and it is our responsibility to right that wrong … Not only is it a tragedy to force people into prison for a crime they did not commit, every time an injustice of this magnitude takes place, the real people responsible are still out there to commit more crimes. Our job is to hold people accountable when they cause harm, but we also have to hold ourselves and the system accountable.”

Mike Romano, director of Stanford’s Three Strikes Project, joined Saldana, his family and Gascón in announcing the exoneration.

Ramano noted that while it is “disappointing to know that a deputy district attorney was privy to this information over six years ago at a parole hearing but failed to bring it to light,” he was pleased that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation alerted Gascón’s office to the new evidence in February.

“We must all work together to help people like Mr. Saldana who are spending their precious years behind bars for an act they did not commit,” he said.

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