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A year in the life of Obie Anthony




Obie Anthony and his fiance, Denise Merchant, outside the Compton Superior Courthouse.
Obie Anthony and his fiance, Denise Merchant, outside the Compton Superior Courthouse.
Shereen Marisol Meraji/KPCC

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Seventeen years ago, jurors convicted Obie Anthony in the shooting death of a man outside a South L.A. brothel. All along, Anthony insisted he didn’t do it. He was 19 when he went to prison.

Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent and the Northern California Innocence Project took on his case and helped convince a judge that the prosecution’s key witness — a pimp — lied to the jury in exchange for a lighter sentence in another case.

Last month, the judge overturned Anthony’s murder conviction. After he stepped out of L.A. County jail, amid the cheers and tears of family and friends, Anthony said, “It’s breathtaking, it’s amazing, it’s so, so, so relieving to be free, finally,” and insisted he was not angry or in the least bit resentful.

The prosecution has another month to decide whether to retry Anthony. In the meantime, he’s starting to rebuild his life. KPCC’s Shereen Marisol Meraji will be checking in with him over this next year to document that process for The Madeleine Brand Show. This is the first in her series of stories.