skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

After Eight Years In Prison, North Park Man Cleared Of Charges

Aired 6/24/13 on KPBS News.

The San Diego County District Attorney's office has exonerated a man who spent eight years in prison as a result of a wrongful conviction.

The San Diego County District Attorney's office has exonerated a man who spent eight years in prison as a result of a wrongful conviction.

Alissa Bjerkhoel makes a presentation to the California Innocence Project seminar at California Western School of Law.
Enlarge this image

Above: Alissa Bjerkhoel makes a presentation to the California Innocence Project seminar at California Western School of Law.

Uriah Courtney was convicted on drug, rape and kidnapping charges after a November 2004 sexual assault in Lemon Grove. The victim told the jury during the eventual trial that she was sure Courtney was the man who had pulled her off the street.

A judge, however, reversed the conviction in May of this year after finding that the biological material from the victim did not match Courtney's. It instead matched that of a man who "bore a striking physical resemblance to Courtney," according to a news release from California Western School of Law.

"The National Institute of Justice has funded us to do DNA testing in cases such as this because identifications have often proved to be faulty," said Alissa Bjerkhoel, one of Courtney's attorneys with the California Innocence Project, a clinical program dedicated to studying wrongful conviction cases and getting them overturned. "Flawed identification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions."

Comments

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 24, 2013 at 3:32 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Anyone convicted by identification in a non double-blinded lineup should have their cases examined.

It's really said this man lost 8 years of his life due to our flawed justice system.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | June 24, 2013 at 9:55 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Nothing's going to be perfect. One can only hope these cases are few and far between in our litigious system.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'dontbelieveeverythingyouread'

dontbelieveeverythingyouread | June 25, 2013 at 10:21 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Once again, Justin Brooks and the California Innocence Project distorts the truth and lies. Shame on you. Can you ever tell the truth rather than make up facts? The D.A.'s office did not exonerate Courtney-far from it. They only agreed to a new trial. In fact Brooks was told numerous times by the D.A.'s office that this "new evidence" does NOT exonerate Courtney. A judge did not reverse the conviction. That is simply a lie. The DA's office went in and agreed to dismiss the charges without prejudice and then eventually set it for a new trial. Also, Courtney was serving 8 years prison time concurrent with the rape charge for being a major methamphetamine dealer. He was caught with over $170,000 in drug money, and pled guilty to that. Funny, how the Innocence Project leaves that part of his conviction and sentence out of their press release. So, Peking_Duck_SD- this man did not lose 8 years of his life. He is far from innocent.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | June 25, 2013 at 11:53 a.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

DBEYR,

I'm going to neglect your moniker and believe what you've written. It sounds as if you have a personal connection to the case, which probably makes reading about it painful and difficult. Dealing meth and rape are two different crimes. Although reprehensible, the former involves consent; the latter is an incorrigible physical transgression.

( | suggest removal )