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Daniel Larson's an Innocent Man, Says Federal Judge: So Why is He Still in Prison?

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Mon, Aug 20, 2012 at 1:25 PM
click to enlarge Daniel Larson. - CHANGE.ORG
  • change.org
  • Daniel Larson.

A man who has been behind bars since 1998 was ruled innocent by a federal judge two years ago. But that hasn't translated to freedom.

Today Bryan Banks, the football player who was previously falsely imprisoned for rape, along with family and other supporters of Daniel Larson, called on California Attorney General Kamala Harris to open Larson's cell for good.

They delivered ...

... more than 110,000 signatures to the Attorney General's L.A. office today, according to a statement from Change.org, which organized the online signature drive.

Bryan Banks, a football hopeful who was wrongly convicted and imprisoned based on false charges that he kidnapped and raped a classmate nearly 10 years ago, joined the fight for Larson's freedom, according to Change.org.

Banks' story was shocking. But Larson's may be even worse.

A federal judge ruled in 2010 that Larson is innocent after he was convicted in 1999 of possessing a concealed weapon. That brought him a sentence of 25 to life.

According to the California Western School of Law, this is how it all started:

On a warm June evening in 1998 two police officers confronted Larsen in the parking lot outside of the Gold Apple Bar in Los Angeles. The officers responded to a call that an assault with a deadly weapon was in progress with shots fired.

The call stated the suspect had a gun, was wearing a green flannel shirt, and had a long ponytail. Police targeted Larsen as the suspect, even though he had a closely shaven head and did not match the description.

The officers said that, as they drove up to Larsen, they saw him reach into the waistband of his pants, pull out a metallic object, and throw it underneath a nearby car. The officers searched Larsen and the area, and found a six-inch double-edged knife underneath the car. Larsen was arrested and eventually convicted of being an ex-felon in possession of a knife. He was sentenced to 25 years to life under California's Three Strikes Law.

Witnesses, including a retired cop, later said it was another man, not Larson, who tossed the knife.

The Attorney General's office is appealing the federal court ruling based on a technicality (that Larson's attorneys missed a deadline), thus keeping Larson locked up for now.

The California Innocence Project has spearheaded the effort to spring the man. The group says he was the victim of "poor representation" by the attorneys who missed the deadline.

Larson's fiancee, Christina:

Visiting Daniel every Sunday is the highlight of my week. But it also breaks my heart to return home each time and imagine the life we would be living if he had been released two years ago. That's why I started my Change.org petition asking Attorney General Kamala Harris to stop being a roadblock to justice.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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