SAN DIEGO (October 24, 2018) The San Diego County Bar Foundation’s (SDCBF) Indigent Criminal Defense Fund (ICD) supports the California Innocence Project and other organizations that deliver effective legal representation and programs to assist accused people who cannot afford to hire an attorney.

Last year, SDCBF provided California Western School of Law’s California Innocence Project $100,000 to bring a post-graduate law student on as a full-time fellow to work on wrongful conviction cases.

News like the below is what makes our work so rewarding!

“I am so pleased to announce that after spending more than 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, California Innocence Project client Horace Roberts was declared factually innocent today of the murder of his former lover Terry Cheek. It was announced that Cheek’s husband, Googie Harris, and his nephew Joaquin Leal, have been arrested and will be charged with the murder tomorrow.

The California Innocence Project took on Roberts’ case in 2003 because there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. The victim’s body was found along Interstate 15 and Roberts’ truck was found nearby. That was used at trial to link him to the crime, but it made no sense that he would leave his fully operable truck along a highway and walk away from the crime scene.

In 2007, we conducted DNA testing on crime scene evidence that revealed two unknown male profiles that could not be distinguished and matched to the DNA databank. In 2017, we conducted more sophisticated DNA testing that was not available at the time of trial or in 2007. DNA under Cheek’s left-hand fingernails matched Joaquin Leal, a convicted sex offender. DNA under her right-hand fingernails and on a bloodstain on her pants matched an unknown male.

Googie Harris set Roberts up for the murder by leaving Horace’s truck near the body along the highway. Harris even testified at Horace’s 2011 parole hearing to oppose his release.

These are the days we live for at the California Innocence Project. Horace Roberts is free and home with his family and justice is finally being served.

Thanks for your support which allows us to continue investigating cases for the truths and righting wrongs where we can!” ~  Justin Brooks – Director, California Innocence Project

To make a donation to the San Diego County Bar Foundation, click here.

About the San Diego County Bar Foundation

The San Diego County Bar Foundation (SDCBF) is the charitable arm of the San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA). Through this partnership with the San Diego County legal community, SDCBF aims to benefit underprivileged communities in the region, by providing them with access to support, funding and public service programs with legal services. The foundation’s beneficiaries include over 50 legal aid and public interest organizations