Charges Expected To Be Dismissed for Wrongly Convicted Man

Michael Hanline was convicted for a 1978 murder and spent 36 years in prison

Charges against a Southern California man are expected to be dismissed Wednesday after he spent 36 years in prison.

In November, a Superior Court judge overturned Michael Hanline's 1978 murder conviction after the San Diego-based California Innocence Project at California Western School of Law filed a petition alleging the prosecution withheld evidence of his innocence. The group has been working on Hanline's case since it was founded 15 years ago.

The Ventura County District Attorney's Office is expected to dismiss Hanline's charges based on a lack of evidence to continue prosecution.

"It is impossible for anyone except Hanline to truly understand what it's like to lose 36 years of your life to the criminal justice system," said Justin Brooks, Director of the California Innocence Project.

Hanline is being called California's longest-serving wrongly convicted inmate.

The Ojai man was convicted of the shooting death of J.T. McGarry in 1980. Prosecutors then argued Hanline was jealous of McGarry because the two were romantically involved with the same woman. Hanline always claimed others were responsible for the crime.

"We are fortunate we got the cooperation of the Ventura County District Attorney's Office on this case," said Alex Simpson, Associate Director of the California Innocence Project and the attorney who argued the petition for Hanline.

"Mistakes were made many years ago, but they were willing to help us and remedy those mistakes," he added.

Brooks and Simpson plan to be at Hanline's court hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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