Last week, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kelvin Filer vacated Obie Anthony’s murder and attempted burglary convictions. Anthony was represented by The Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University School of Law.
Anthony, 37, has spent 17 years in prison for the 1994 murder of Felipe Gonzales outside of a South L.A. brothel. Judge Filer vacated Anthony’s conviction based on new evidence of innocence, centering around egregious prosecutorial misconduct. The prosecutor in Anthony’s case failed to correct the false testimony of its key witness and failed to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense, specifically the deal given to the key witness in exchange for testifying. John Jones, a pimp with a prior manslaughter conviction, was the only witness to identify Anthony, and seven other witnesses failed to identify Anthony. There was no physical evidence connecting Anthony with the crime. In fact, fingerprints lifted from the car involved did not match Anthony or a second defendant (also convicted), nor did shoeprints from the scene.
In overturning the conviction, Judge Filer said that the prosecution’s chief witness, around whom the entire case for trial was built, “will say almost anything to avoid consequences to himself . . . in an earlier proceeding, he lied about the death of his own mother.”
NCIP attorney Paige Kaneb said, “Obie Anthony is an innocent man who has survived this ordeal with grace and courage . . . . Even now, Mr. Anthony is not angry. Instead, he just wants to start his life as a free man, go to college, and then devote his time to helping others.”