A man sentenced to 27 years to life in prison for a decades-old slaying was released from L.A.'s Twin Towers Correctional Facility Friday evening, after two sisters of a key witness said the account of what the sibling saw was a lie.
Superior Court Judge Katherine Mader threw out the conviction of Kash Delano Register, 53, on Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Los Angeles man was convicted of killing Jack Sasson, 78, in April 1979, but has always maintained his innocence.
As Register and his mother, Wilma Register, embraced Friday, they were filled with tears. Attorneys from Loyola Law School's Project for the Innocent surrounded the mother and son.
“This is the moment I’ve been waiting for for 34 years, to embrace my son,” said Wilma Register. “I had faith all along he was innocent.”
Prosecutors said they would decide by next month whether to appeal Mader's decision or retry him.
“What really broke this case were the sisters of the first witness, Brenda Anderson, coming forward, saying, ‘she lied,’” said Loyola Law School Professor Laurie Levenson, who worked with the school’s Project for the Innocent on Register’s case.
“Prosecutors and police did not play by the rules in this case,” said Levenson. “One of the rules is, if there’s evidence in the prosecution file that helps the defendant, they’ve got to turn it over.”
Levenson said there were two eyewitnesses to the murder who could not identify Register, but that evidence was never presented to the jury. Register was convicted mainly on eyewitness testimony. None of the seven fingerprints found on Sasson's car matched Register's, and police never recovered the murder weapon.
Prosecutors relied on the testimony of Brenda Anderson, who identified Register as the gunman, even though he had an alibi that he was with his girlfriend at the time of the shooting.
Sheila Vanderkam said she and Sharon Anderson tried to tell police in 1979 that their sister lied, but one detective placed his finger over his mouth indicating to keep silent.
"He made it very clear to me, without actually saying anything, that I was to stay out of it," Vanderkam said in a court declaration.
Vanderkam also said her sisters had hidden a package of Avon products at the time of the shooting that they had stolen from a neighbor. Sharon Anderson said police threatened to lock her up for the stolen package.
Brenda Anderson has repeatedly changed her account. When asked in court last month whether Register had been the shooter, she replied, "It may or may not have been that person."
This story has been updated.