Obie Anthony Exonerated, Released From Jail 17 Years After South L.A. Brothel Murder Conviction, 'Still Believes in Justice System'
So Amanda Knox spent four years in Italian jail for a murder she didn't commit. Don't think for a second it couldn't happen here: Knox's injustice has nothing on the nearly two decades that Los Angeles man Obie Anthony spent behind bars downtown, reading self-help books and struggling to maintain his faith/sanity after being convicted of a cold-blooded murder outside a South L.A. brothel. Late last month, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kelvin D. Filer ruled that Anthony was innocent; and late last night, he walked a free man for the first time in 17 years.
Here's the most insane part about his release yesterday. Somehow, after spending almost half his life doing time for someone else's sins...
... Anthony told reporters outside the downtown L.A. jailhouse that "he still believes in the justice system," according to KPCC. "His release, he said, is proof that it works."
The newly exonerated convict was found guilty of fatally mugging a man named Felipe Gonzales who was reportedly looking for fun at a brothel at 49th and Figueroa in 1994. The whorehouse's resident pimp, John Jones, later fingered Anthony for the crime -- and the judge believed him, despite a prior conviction of manslaughter and a history of lying under oath.
If a man this atrociously wronged can still see the positive in a life that was largely stolen from him by a nasty team of prosecutors, we're pretty sure everything you were ever planning on complaining about has now been rendered completely ridiculous.
Here we have him -- our 21st-century Pollyanna.
What Anthony's mostly talking about, though -- justice-wise -- are the law students and teachers from Loyola Law School's Project for the Innocent who have been working to rebuild his defense (along with some from Santa Clara University). Here's what they found, via truthinjustice.org:
During the hearing Anthony's lawyers demonstrated the prosecution's key witness had lied repeatedly at trial and that the prosecution knew of his lies but failed to correct them for the jury. They also presented evidence that the prosecution suppressed evidence that impeached its witnesses, that Anthony is actually innocent, and that Anthony's defense attorney at trial failed to investigate and present information that suggested Jones was the actual killer.
Still, the fact that it took 17 years to prove such blatant mishandling of Anthony's case is heartbreaking and dead frustrating. Not that you would know it from his blissful demeanor yesterday:
"I'm so, so, so relieved to be free," he told reporters. "I knew from the very beginning that justice would come. I just had to wait for her to be born."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.