LA Man Found Innocent, Freed After Nearly 20 Years in Prison

Witness says LAPD pressured him into perjuring himself


A Los Angeles man serving a life sentence for murder was released Monday after prosecutors conceded that their star witness had perjured himself.

During 19 years behind bars, John Edward Smith, a 37-year-old former gang member, adamantly maintained his innocence in the drive-by shooting, insisting that he was miles away at his grandmother's house at the time of the crime.

His claims went unheard until three years ago, when a fledgling wrongful convictions group, Innocence Matters, took his case and identified problems with the testimony of the lone witness to identify him as the killer. The man subsequently recanted and at a brief and raucous hearing Monday afternoon, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge vacated his conviction.