State set­tles with wrongly con­victed

Three ex­on­er­ated Cal­i­for­ni­ans who spent years in prison will re­ceive a to­tal of $968,400.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Phil Wil­lon and Pa­trick McGreevy phil.wil­ Twit­ter: @philwillon pa­trick.mcgreevy Twit­ter: @mc­greevy99

SACRA­MENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown on Wed­nes­day signed leg­is­la­tion to pay $968,400 to set­tle claims by three wrongly con­victed Cal­i­for­ni­ans, in­clud­ing Brian Banks, a for­mer star football player from Long Beach who served five years in prison be­fore a young girl re­canted her ac­cu­sa­tion that he had raped her.

Banks will re­ceive $142,200 un­der the set­tle­ment, which the Leg­is­la­ture ap­proved last week.

Banks was a 16-year-old line­backer at Poly­tech­nic High School when Wanetta Gib­son, a 15-year-old class­mate, ac­cused him of rap­ing her in 2003.

At the time, Banks in­sisted that their sex­ual con­tact was con­sen­sual. How­ever, he took his at­tor­ney’s ad­vice to plead no con­test rather than risk be­ing sen­tenced to 41 years to life in prison. He was sen­tenced to six years in prison.

Gib­son re­canted her al­le­ga­tion in 2011, and Banks was ex­on­er­ated in May 2012.

Banks, who as a high school player had caught the eye of coaches at USC, UCLA and other col­lege football pro­grams, tried out with the Seat­tle Seahawks and At­lanta Fal­cons af­ter his re­lease from prison but was not signed. In 2014, he was hired by the Na­tional Football League to help mon­i­tor games for prob­lem calls by ref­er­ees.

Claims are filed with the Cal­i­for­nia Vic­tim Com­pen- sa­tion and Gov­ern­ment Claims Board and au­to­mat­i­cally rec­om­mended to the Leg­is­la­ture for pay­ment if the pe­ti­tioner was wrongly con­victed and found by a judge to be fac­tu­ally in­no­cent.

The leg­is­la­tion signed by the Demo­cratic gover­nor also will pay $597,200 to Su- san Mellen, who was found by a court to be fac­tu­ally in­no­cent af­ter spend­ing more than 17 years in prison on a con­vic­tion that she mur­dered her boyfriend.

Mellen was re­leased last year af­ter the Los An­ge­les County dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice agreed with a pe­ti­tion by the group In­no­cence Mat- ters to have the con­vic­tion over­turned. A judge agreed that the trial hinged on a sin­gle wit­ness who was a “ha­bit­ual liar.”

Ron­ald Ross will re­ceive $229,000. Ross was found fac­tu­ally in­no­cent by a court that re­versed a 2006 con­vic­tion on pre­med­i­tated at­tempted mur­der and as- sault with a firearm. The Alameda County dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice con­cluded that false ev­i­dence was used against Ross.

Bob Cham­ber­lin Los An­ge­les Times

FOR­MER Long Beach line­backer Brian Banks, with his par­ents, speaks in 2012 af­ter be­ing cleared of rape. Banks will re­ceive $142,200 un­der the set­tle­ment.

Allen J. Schaben L.A. Times

AF­TER 17 years in prison, Su­san Mellen was ex­on­er­ated last year.

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