Innocent Man Released After Spending 33 Years In Prison

( – Thirty-three years after he was imprisoned for an attempted murder he didn’t commit, Daniel Saldana is walking out of jail a free man.

It all started with a shooting in 1989 at a high school football game in Los Angeles. Saldana, today 55 years old, was convicted of shooting into a car carrying six teenagers. No one died, but two of the vehicle occupants were injured. At the time, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office said there were two shooters who had mistaken the teens in the car for gang members.

Somehow, though, three people were charged with attempted murder. Daniel Saldana was one of them. Aged 22 at the time and working a job in construction, Saldana was convicted and given 45 years to life in state custody.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office started an investigation into the incident in February of 2023 through its Conviction Integrity Unit. Their second look found that Saldana had nothing to do with the crime.

Saldana’s release could have happened more quickly if a deputy district attorney had shared key information. At the 2017 parole hearing of another man convicted in the shooting, that man said Saldana was not even present for the incident and had nothing to do with it. But the former deputy DA did not share that with Saldana or his lawyer.

Los Angeles DA George Gascon said prosecutors have a duty “not simply to secure convictions, but to seek justice.” When someone is convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, Gascon said, the justice system has failed.

Saldana joined DA Gascon at a press conference on May 25th to talk about what it was like to live behind bars as an innocent man. He said he struggled every day with the knowledge that he was innocent and crying for help.

Saldana said he was grateful to those who cleared his name and freed him. DA Gascon apologized to Saldana, saying he knew an apology would not erase the years he spent imprisoned.

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