Man Pardoned For 1978 Murder In Ventura County Now Declared Factually Innocent By Judge

Nov 30, 2017

A man recently released from prison for a pair of 1978 Ventura County murders prosecutors and police say he didn’t commit has now been declared factually innocent.

Craig Coley was convicted in 1980 of the murder of Rhonda Wicht of Simi Valley, and her four year old son, Donald. The woman was Coley’s ex-girlfriend.

After a Simi Valley police detective raised doubts about the evidence, previously unavailable DNA testing was done, and it indicated someone else was responsible for the killings. Prosecutors and Police asked Governor Jerry Brown to issue a full and unconditional pardon, which he did last week. Coley was released.

Now, a Ventura County Superior Court judge ruled the now 70 year old man is factually innocent. It opens the door for him to receive victim’s compensation for a conviction even prosecutors call a case of profound injustice.