Former Glendora man freed from prison after 1985 murder conviction was overturned files claim

A former Glendora man was released from prison after 27 years when his 1985 murder conviction was overturned last year has filed a claim against the county, as well as a detective and the estate of another detective who investigated the case.
Frank O’Connell, 55, was convicted of slaying of 27-year-old Jay French in South Pasadena on Jan. 5, 1984. He has maintained that he was innocent of the crime.
But after more than 27 years in prison, and assistance from the nonprofit organization Centurion Ministry, which is dedicated to freeing wrongly convicted prisoners, O’Connell’s conviction was thrown out March 29 of last year by Pasadena Superior Court Judge Suzette Clover, who cited major problems she found with O’Connell’s trial.
“Police officer investigating his case withheld critical information,” said O’Connell’s attorney, Barrett Litt. “(They) gave misleading information in reports which led to a conviction.”
By law, police and prosecutors must turn over all evidence, including exculpatory evidence, to the defense, Litt explained. “That’s a very well-established rule.”
“It came out that they withheld notes that they had written contemporaneously with interviews,” Litt said.
In overturning O’Connell’s conviction, Clover also pointed out that a key witness in the original 1985 murder trial have since recanted his testimony and claimed a detective pressured him to identify O’Connell as the killer.
Prosecutors did not seek to re-try the case, saying they were unable to gather sufficient evidence.
Litt said a claim against Los Angeles County was filed Monday, Litt said. Also named as defendants in the case are one of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide detectives who handled the investigation, along with the estate of his partner, who is now deceased.
The claim seeks unspecified damages, the attorney said. In past cases, juries have awarded $1 million for each year a person was wrongfully imprisoned.
Since his release from prison last year, O’Connell has moved to Colorado where he works at a cabinet shop, Litt said.

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