No retrial, man free after 26 years
A Los Angeles man whose murder conviction was overturned last month walked out of court Monday a free man after prosecutors said they would not retry him for his mother's 1983 slaying.
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles man whose murder conviction was overturned last month walked out of court Monday a free man after prosecutors said they would not retry him for his mother's 1983 slaying.
"How can you put this into words?" said Bruce Lisker, 44, after a judge formally dismissed the murder charge. "It's unbelievable."
In requesting the dismissal, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Dixon said much of the physical evidence had been lost or destroyed and some witnesses have died.
He said he remained convinced Lisker was guilty but acknowledged he lacked sufficient evidence to go to trial.
For Lisker, the announcement capped a legal Odyssey to clear his name in the beating and stabbing death of his mother, Dorka, 66.
He spent more than 26 years in prison before a federal judge overturned his conviction, ruling he had been prosecuted with "false evidence" and that his original defense attorney did not represent him adequately.
The judge's findings mirrored those of a 2005 Los Angeles Times investigation, which raised questions about key elements of the case against Lisker and exposed the Los Angeles Police Department's investigation as sloppy and incomplete.
After the federal judge's decision, the district attorney's office pressed forward with plans to retry Lisker.
Monday's hearing was supposed to be a routine session to discuss pretrial matters and determine which judge would handle the case.
Instead, Dixon entered the motion to dismiss the murder charge, which Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza granted. Lisker hugged his attorneys.
"This has been a long time coming. This is truth, this is justice," Lisker said.
After leaving the courthouse, Lisker said he celebrated by having a lobster lunch with his deceased stepmother's husband, who has been a supporter and allowed Lisker to move into his condominium after his release from prison.
"We just got to reflect on the long haul that it's been, and on all the sorrows and joys along the way," Lisker said.
Asked for his response about Dixon's belief that he committed the crime, Lisker said, "Everybody's entitled to their opinion."
Before Monday's dismissal, Lisker saw his immediate future dominated by court hearings and fighting to prove his innocence.
"It was a continuation of the nightmare that had begun 26 years ago, but I told myself, 'I'm gonna survive this,' " Lisker said. "If they hadn't dropped the charges, we were prepared to go in and demonstrate why they should have. We were going to win an acquittal."
Because there is no statute of limitations on murder, prosecutors could refile against Lisker, if, for example, new evidence emerges.
Since being released on bail, Lisker has tried to resume a normal life. He bought a cellphone and computer and planned to become a Web designer. He got his first ATM card. He enrolled in a computer course.
He aced the written portion of his driver's exam, he said, and was waiting to take the driving test.
With no more restrictions on traveling, Lisker said he wanted to visit Hawaii and "sit on the beach."
William Genego, one of Lisker's attorneys, said he and his partners plan to file a civil lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department and the lead detective on the case, who has since retired. Lisker has alleged the detective provided prosecutors with bogus information upon which his false conviction was ultimately based.
The case against Lisker hinged largely on four elements: Blood spatter on his clothes implicated him; police believed it impossible for him to have seen his mother lying on the floor from outside the house; he confessed to a jailhouse informant; and police said bloody shoe prints placed only him at the scene.
At an evidentiary hearing in federal court, each of those elements was undermined or disproved.
UPDATE - 10:01 AM
Rebels tighten hold on Libya oil port
UPDATE - 09:29 AM
Reality leads US to temper its tough talk on Libya
UPDATE - 09:38 AM
2 Ark. injection wells may be closed amid quakes
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.