A Los Angeles, California man will be paid a sum of $8 million after winning a lawsuit against the LAPD. Obie Anthony (pictured) spent 17 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Anthony and his friend, Reggie Cole, were convicted to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Felipe Gonzales Angeles during an alleged robbery outside a brothel.
The case was investigated by Los Angeles Police Detective Pete Razanskas, a 22-year veteran, and Marcella Winn. According to the LA Times, Razanskas was said to have picked up six rounds of bullets at the scene of the crime. But instead of keeping them as part of the evidence, he handed them to reporter Miles Corwin as souvenirs when the two men were convicted of murder.
The bullets were subjected to ballistics tests by Anthony’s lawyer. He determined that the round came from the weapon that was possibly used to kill Angeles and could have helped identify the killer.
The shooting happened at 49th and Figueroa streets when Angeles and two friends walked up to a brothel’s front door and asked for a woman named Melinda. He was not allowed into the brothel, and while he was returning to his vehicle with his friends, shots were fired at them. Angeles was fatally wounded, but his two friends survived.
Detectives Razanskas and Winn then received an anonymous tip that a local gang member was involved, and they quickly turned their attention to Anthony and Cole, who were at the time being held in the county jail for a carjacking.
The trial was based on witness testimonials and no real factual evidence. The testimonials were provided by John Jones, a pimp who identified Anthony and Cole as the robbers and also testified that they shot at him.
Victor Trejo, one of the victims who survived the attack, also identified them as the robbers, despite having failed to do so earlier in photo and live line ups. Another witness was a security guard at the Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center who said that Cole and Anthony had earlier come in with gunshot wounds.
The detectives determined that the two men must have gotten the injuries at the scene of the crime during the gunfire. They were then both sentenced to prison with no possibility of parole. However, the California Innocence Project came in to investigate this case and found that Jones had fabricated his story.
The case was overturned in 2009, after which Anthony was released. He then sued the detectives for wrongful imprisonment and alleged that the LAPD had used wrongful methods. Anthony now lives with his wife, Denise, in rural San Bernardino County.
Cole is currently out on bail after being arrested last month for felony mayhem and assault.