L.A. County Pays $24 Million to Wrongfully Convicted Teens

Two men who were wrongfully convicted of murder as teens in 1997 and exonerated after 23 years behind bars will share a $24 million settlement from Los Angeles County, The Los Angeles Times reported.

“The lies behind John Klene and Ed Dumbrique’s decades-long wrongful imprisonment were exposed before their criminal trial began when a witness described how a Sheriff’s Department detective made up the evidence against them,” Klene and Dumbrique’s attorneys, Deirdre O’Connor and Nick Brustin said in a joint statement. “But the detectives lied again to cover up their misconduct, and the Sheriff’s Department let them. John and Ed are hopeful that the magnitude of this settlement leads to a careful evaluation of how many other wrongful convictions were caused by these same systemic failures.”

They said Klene plans to use some of his settlement to help mentor at-risk youths, while Dumbrique intends to further his work on prison reform.

“My time in prison amounted to the worst nightmare one could ever dream of, only mine was a reality,” Dumbrique said in a statement. “California has the most dangerous prisons in America. Children do not belong there.” Dumbrique was 15 at the time of his arrest; Klene was 18.

Dumbrique and Klene are represented by the national civil rights law firm Neufeld Scheck & Brustin Hoffmann & Freudenberger, LLP, based in New York; their legal team includes partners Nick Brustin and Anna Benvenutti Hoffmann and attorneys Katie McCarthy and Katrina Rogachevsky, as well as co-counsel Dierdre O’Connor of Seamus Law, based in Torrance, California.

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