The Denver Post

A Denver man who spent 28 years in a Colorado prison for a crime he didn’t commit finally will get compensated by the state for his years behind bars.

At a news conference Thursday morning, new Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced that the state will not oppose the petition of Clarence Moses-EL, who will receive nearly $2 million under the Colorado Exoneration Act.

He will be the second person to receive compensation under the 2013 law.

Weiser said the decision will save the state resources by not having to defend a case it would lose in court. He added that the justice system needs to do a better job in the future of preserving DNA evidence.

“This case is a travesty of justice,” Weiser said. “We will thus bring an end to this case and avoid the parties from having to relive this experience, and save the cost of bringing this to a full trial.”

In case you were not already aware, a miscarriage of justice, also commonly known as a failure of justice, occurs when a person is convicted and punished for a crime that they did not commit.

Moreover, being wrongly accused of a crime is highly damaging and can ruin lives. In addition, it can lead to the breakdown of relationships with family, friends, and work colleagues, even before any charges are formally made against you.

In short, when you are accused of a crime, the police, and various other agencies are tasked with building a case against you. This can rapidly spiral out of control and there is a good chance that your liberties will be restricted.

Consequently, ​if you have been wrongly accused or even wrongly accused and convicted it is crucial that you reach out to an experienced criminal defense lawyer to work on your case or appeal.

You can find further resources about how to go about compiling a defense during criminal proceedings by contacting a team of bucks county criminal lawyers or by speaking to a criminal law expert in your area.

The previous attorney general, Cynthia Coffman, in November elected to push the lawsuit into the next administration. Coffman had fought against compensating Moses-EL, arguing that just because a jury acquitted him at his retrial, that does not prove he’s innocent.

Moses-EL was convicted in 1987 of raping and beating a neighbor and sentenced to 48 years in prison. From the beginning, he insisted he was innocent and that the victim falsely identified him.

“Mr. Moses-EL is grateful to Attorney General Weiser for working to heal the harm that has been done to him by the state of Colorado,” Gail Johnson, one of Moses-EL’s attorneys, said in a statement. “Although no amount of money can give Mr. Moses-EL back the half of his life that was lost to the Colorado prison system, this compensation will help him and his family recover from this traumatic ordeal.”

Weiser pointed to the destruction of DNA evidence as a critical blunder that should not be fought by his office.

“We have to learn from this … tragic mistake and action,” he said. “It’s costly to the state … there is, I believe, now a clear and powerful example of both the financial and human costs.”

Weiser said he spoke to the victim in this case, alerting her of his decision. The case remains unsolved.

“She’s remarkable, in that she’s been through a lot,” the attorney general said. “She understood that the legal situation here required me to act in this way.”

Weiser said he did not speak directly with Moses-EL before making his decision, only to his attorneys.

The circumstances behind this case raised questions from the outset, with several twists and turns through the years.

Moses-EL’s accuser identified him as the attacker after a dream while medicated and hospitalized because of injuries received in the incident. Denver police then mistakenly destroyed DNA evidence. Later, another inmate confessed to the crime, but recanted.

After a judge in 2015 granted him a new trial, Moses-EL refused to accept a plea bargain in the case. Then, in November 2016, a jury acquitted him after the retrial.

During his campaign, Weiser indicated he would be open to exploring a settlement in the case.

The Colorado Exoneration Act compensates wrongly convicted individuals $70,000 for each year they spent behind bars. For Moses-EL, that equates to nearly $2 million.

Fourteen days after the court orders directed payment, he will receive $100,000, said Lawrence Pacheco, spokesman for the attorney general. Moses-EL can then receive a lump sum after a year, Pacheco said, adding that the state court administrator is responsible for payment.

He still has a separate civil rights lawsuit pending against the city, a former district attorney and police investigators, seeking unspecified damages.

Since his release from prison, Moses-EL has spoken around the world about his wrongful conviction, along with mentoring at-risk children.