Exonerated Men Wrongfully Imprisoned for 2003 Drive-By Shooting Released

Los Angeles – Two individuals wrongfully convicted of a 2003 drive-by shooting in South Los Angeles have been formally exonerated and released from prison. Jofama Coleman and Abel Soto spent approximately 20 years behind bars before being cleared of the crime they did not commit.

Coleman and Soto were young when they were arrested and charged in connection with the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Jose “Chino” Robles. Despite the lack of evidence tying them to the crime, Soto received a sentence of 72 years to life for allegedly firing the deadly shots, while Coleman was sentenced to 25 years to life for driving the vehicle used in the shooting.

Over the years, both men maintained their innocence, with witnesses later recanting their testimonies. Despite facing numerous challenges, they remained steadfast in proclaiming their innocence throughout the legal process.

Attorney Ellen Eggers, who represented Coleman and Soto, successfully petitioned for a review of their case, leading to a judge declaring Soto factually innocent in January and Coleman being declared factually innocent a day later.

District Attorney George Gascón highlighted that the case was a tragic miscarriage of justice that required correcting. He emphasized the importance of learning from past mistakes to ensure fairness prevails in the future.

During a news conference, Coleman expressed his desire to become a lawyer now that he is free, with a goal of assisting others who may be wrongfully imprisoned. He reflected on the hardships endured during his wrongful incarceration, emphasizing the resilience and support he received that ultimately led to his vindication.

The exoneration of Coleman and Soto serves as a reminder of the complexities of the criminal justice system and the impact of wrongful convictions on individuals’ lives. As they move forward with their newfound freedom, they are determined to make a positive impact on the legal system and advocate for others who may be facing similar unjust circumstances.