Wrongly Convicted Man Lectures at Evidence Collection Class in Coronado

California awarded Coley nearly $2 million in compensation for the wrongful conviction

Law enforcement officials from all over the state taking an evidence management class in Coronado Thursday heard from a special guest lecturer. 

Craig Richard Coley, a man who was wrongly convicted of a double homicide and spent nearly 40 years in prison, gave a talk to students about the justice system. 

"If I can prevent one person from going through what I went through it's worthwhile to me," said Coley outside of the classroom Thursday afternoon. 

In May, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law giving the 70-year-old $140 for each day he was incarcerated. 

California awarded Coley nearly $2 million in compensation for the 13,991 days he spent 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.

Coley said that his faith is what got him through all those years in prison. He now lives in Carlsbad and said he plans to spend time with friends and travel. 

"I'm not going to let that bitterness spoil me," said Coley. "I'm going to move forward. They've already taken enough of my life." 

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

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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