HESPERIA – A Hesperia man was released from jail last week after serving 23 years for a crime he did not commit. On Tuesday, June 21st Bill Richards, a Hesperia man who was wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for the August 1993 murder of his wife, 40-year-old Pamela Richards was released from jail.
Richards testified that he had just returned from work as a swing shift electrical engineer in Corona at around midnight on August 11, 1993 to find all the lights in his trailer out. He went to turn on the generator and on the way to his trailer he found his wife of deceased in the yard of their Summit Valley area home. He testified that he cradled the lifeless body of his petite wife for a few minutes before calling 911 to report the gruesome murder. Coroner’s officials determined that her cause of death was strangulation and a blow to her head.
After a brief interview, Richards are arrested for the murder of his wife. After three mistrials, two hung juries and one with leaked information a 1997 jury found Richards guilty. He was sentenced to 25 years to life. No one, not even the family of the victim believed that Richards was responsible for the brutal murder of his wife.
Evidence indicated that the body of Pamela had self-defense wounds yet Richard had no evidence of a struggle. Richards, still devastated with the death of his wife vowed to prove his innocence. In 2001 he contacted the California Innocence Project who took on his case.
The conviction was overturned by a San Bernardino County Judge in light of new evidence and information leading him to believe that an expert witness provided false information during trial. Still Richards remained in jail due to a prosecution appeal and the fact that he was financially unable to post bail. The California Supreme Court ruled to uphold the conviction in a 4-3 decision.
Richards, who was released finally on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, walked out of the doors of the West Valley Detention Center as the first convicted murderer in California to be freed with the help of the California Innocence Project.
Upon his release, California Innocence Project officials said on Facebook, “Bill Richards asked us for ribs after 23 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit so we got him ribs”.
The California Innocence project officials continue to help Richards rebuild his life after being robbed of both his wife and 23 years of his own life. Richards suffers from advanced prostate cancer but is not letting that stop him. Richards, who is still mourning the loss of losing his wife, is making plans for a life outside of California and possibly starting a business in engineering.
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- William Richards: California Innocence Project