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Los Angeles man exonerated of murder after 19 years in prison

John Edward Smith

Rina Palta / KPCC

John Edward Smith walked out of Men's Central Jail after spending 19 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit.

In 1993, John Edward Smith was a gang member. That's probably, his attorney said, why he was convicted of a murder he didn't commit. Smith spent 19 years in prison for murder and attempted murder in a Mid City drive-by shooting that claimed the life of 16-year-old DeAnthony Williams and left Landu Mvuemba critically injured. Months later, Mvuemba identified Smith as the shooter and eventually testified against him in court. Mvuemba later recanted his testimony, telling attorneys he felt pressured by police to peg Smith.

 On Monday, L.A. Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg vacated Smith's conviction, bringing an end to a two-year legal process. 

"We had no idea it would take that long," said Deirdre O'Conner, Smith's attorney, and founder of Innocence Matters, a non-profit in Torrance devoted to freeing inmates who've been wrongfully convicted.