Crime & Justice

Court OKs lawsuits against Los Angeles sheriff's officials

A case in the bedroom of Francisco (Franky) Carrillo contains his ID tag from prison, a pencil and pieces of sage that a friend suggested he use as a symbol of healing. An appeals court ruling Wednesday, August 26, 2015, would allow lawsuits brought against three sheriff's officials accused of withholding evidence from Carrillo and one other murder defendant, both of whom were later exonerated.
A case in the bedroom of Francisco (Franky) Carrillo contains his ID tag from prison, a pencil and pieces of sage that a friend suggested he use as a symbol of healing. An appeals court ruling Wednesday, August 26, 2015, would allow lawsuits brought against three sheriff's officials accused of withholding evidence from Carrillo and one other murder defendant, both of whom were later exonerated.
Michael Juliano/KPCC
A case in the bedroom of Francisco (Franky) Carrillo contains his ID tag from prison, a pencil and pieces of sage that a friend suggested he use as a symbol of healing. An appeals court ruling Wednesday, August 26, 2015, would allow lawsuits brought against three sheriff's officials accused of withholding evidence from Carrillo and one other murder defendant, both of whom were later exonerated.
After two decades in prison for a murder he did not commit, Franky Carrillo spent his first year of freedom just trying to get back to a normal life. An appeals court ruling Wednesday, August 26, 2015, would allow lawsuits brought against three sheriff's officials accused of withholding evidence from Carrillo and one other murder defendant, both of whom were later exonerated.
Michael Juliano/KPCC


A federal appeals court says Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators can be held liable for withholding evidence from two murder defendants who have since been exonerated.

The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday would allow the lawsuits brought by Francisco Carrillo and Frank O'Connell against three sheriff's officials to proceed.

The appeals court said the sheriff's officials — Craig Ditsch, J.D. Smith and Eric Parra — were not immune from liability because the law at the time of their murder investigations clearly established that they had to turn over exculpatory evidence.

A call to an attorney at the law firm representing the sheriff's officials was not immediately returned.

Courts overturned O'Connell's conviction in 2009 and Carrillo's conviction in 2011. Both men had spent years in prison.