Man wrongly convicted of murder wins $21 million payout after jail release

Man wrongly convicted of murder wins $21 million payout after jail release

Craig Coley spent nearly four decades behind bars for murders he didn’t commit.

Now, it’s been revealed he’s set to pocket $29 million in compensation for the suffering he endured.

The 71-year-old was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole over the deaths of his ex-girlfriend Rhonda Wicht and her son four-year-old son Donald.

Their bodies were found in their apartment in 1978, but over the many years, Mr Coley always insisted he was innocent.

But it wasn’t until late 2017 when DNA evidence finally cleared his name — and allowed him to walk free.

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According to Metro, Mr Coley has now finally reached an agreement with the city of Simi Valley, California, to the tune of $A29 million.

“While no amount of money can make up for what happened to Mr Coley, settling this case is the right thing to do for Mr Coley and our community,” the publication reported city manager Eric Levitt as saying in a statement.

Simi Valley will cover around $A6.85 million, with the rest to be paid by insurance and other sources.

The California Victim Compensation Board awarded the Navy veteran almost $US2 ($A2.8) million, in compensation — $US140 ($A195) for each of the 13,991 days spent “illegally behind bars, away from society, employment, and (his) loved ones”, according to CNN.

But Mr Coley then filed a “federal civil rights lawsuit”, which means he’s about to get tens of millions more.

Mr Coley was freed after DNA found on Ms Wicht’s bedsheets ended up matching a different man’s.

He also had an alibi at the time of the slayings and a witness who claimed to have seen him at the scene was later disproved.

Tragically, Mr Coley’s parents both died while he was behind bars after they remortgaged their house to cover his legal fees.

His lawyer, Ron Kaye, said the new settlement would bring his client some closure.

“He now can live the rest of his life, which we hope will be really well into the future, with the security he deserves,” Mr Kaye said, according to Metro.

Mr Coley has since been declared factually innocent, however, the true killer has not yet been brought to justice.

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