News Releases

February 28, 2023: District Attorney Gascón, LA Innocence Project Seek Factual Innocence of Maurice Hastings

Media Relations Division

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced today that his office has determined exoneree Maurice Hastings should be found factually innocent for a 1983 murder he did not commit.

“Our Conviction Integrity Unit launched a full investigation into Mr. Hasting’s claim of factual innocence. They interviewed witnesses and carefully reviewed evidence and determined that we believe Mr. Hastings to be factually innocent of the crimes which occurred 40 years ago. Tomorrow we will join his lawyers in asking the court to find him innocent,” District Attorney Gascón said.

Maurice Hastings survived a nightmare. He spent nearly four decades in prison exhausting every avenue to prove his innocence while being repeatedly denied. But Mr. Hastings has remained steadfast and faithful that one day he would hear a judge proclaim his innocence. We hope tomorrow is that day.”

District Attorney Gascón was joined today by Mr. Hastings and Paula Mitchell, director of the Los Angeles Innocence Project at California State University, Los Angeles, for a tour of the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.

“Maurice Hastings was able to prove his innocence, in large part, due to the federal funding that Cal State LA’s CFSI has been granted. This funding makes it possible to test DNA evidence in wrongful conviction cases with claims of actual innocence,” Mitchell said.

The group met with students from the university’s forensic science graduate training program. The Los Angeles Innocence Project is the only one of its kind in the nation that is housed within a program equipped with labs and crime reconstruction facilities.

Mr. Hastings served more than 38 years in state prison for the 1983 murder of Roberta Wydermyer and two attempted murders. He narrowly escaped being sentenced to death and was sentenced in 1988 to life in state prison without the possibility of parole after his first trial resulted in a hung jury. From the time of his arrest, Mr. Hastings has maintained his innocence.

He submitted a claim of innocence with the District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit in 2021 and last June DNA testing which matched another person, Kenneth Packnett. In October, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan approved a request by the District Attorney’s Office and Los Angeles Innocence Project to vacate the conviction and immediately release him from prison.

Now, Mr. Hastings will ask Judge Ryan tomorrow to grant him the legal finding that he is factually innocent that will clear his name and possibly obtain relief. After four months of investigation since the conviction was vacated, the District Attorney’s Office firmly believes that Mr. Hastings should be found factually innocent and that Kenneth Packnett was the actual killer.