Californian cleared after 40 years in prison gets $2 million

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California has awarded nearly $2 million in compensation to a former inmate wrongly imprisoned for almost 40 years.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed a law giving 70-year-old Craig Richard Coley $140 for each day he was in prison.

Coley spent 39 years behind bars after he was wrongly convicted of killing his girlfriend, 24-year-old Rhonda Wicht of Simi Valley, and her 4-year-old son in 1978.

Brown pardoned him before Thanksgiving at the urging of Simi Valley's police chief and Ventura County's district attorney, who cited faulty evidence.

Coley previously said the money can't make up for what he called the "worst nightmare" of spending 13,991 days in prison.

It's the largest payment under California's Erroneous Conviction Program, although there have been larger awards to crime victims through other programs.


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