LOS ANGELES – A Glendora man who claims he was wrongly convicted of murder and imprisoned for 27 years is suing Los Angeles County, alleging sheriff’s detectives withheld exculpatory evidence, according to court papers obtained today.
In his civil rights lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court, Frank O’Connell alleges Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives coerced witnesses to identify him as the man who fatally shot Jay French.
Detectives withheld information that could have benefited the defense, according to the lawsuit.
O’Connell maintains he became the prime suspect after French’s ex-wife told detectives she had been in a relationship with him and because he matched a description of the gunman, according to the lawsuit.
Detectives “failed to provide critical exculpatory evidence that would have been helpful to the defense regarding the initial identifications” by eyewitnesses and others, the complaint alleges.
A Pasadena judge overturned O’Connell’s conviction in April after a witness recanted, saying he never got a clear look at the shooter, according to the complaint.
O’Connell, 55, was released from Solano State Prison in April. He wants $1 million for each of the 27 years he was locked up.