LOS ANGELES (CBS) — In a rare move, a state agency has awarded more than$160,000 to a man wrongly imprisoned for a $30 drug store robbery, the man’s attorney said.
The state Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board approved the award last Thursday to Robert Cuevas, said his lawyer, Yael Trock.
Out of 116 claims the board has received since 1984, Cuevas’ is one of only 16 they have approved, Trock said.
According to Trock, Cuevas was charged with robbery and a firearms enhancement in December 2003 in connection with an incident at a Rite Aid store at 1637 Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, seven months earlier.
Three men entered the store and placed gift bags and dental strips inside their pants that were worth about $30 and attempted to leave, according to Trock.
When they were detained on the way out, one of the men pointed a gun at a security guard and all three got away, Trock said.
Cuevas was arrested in July 2003 based on the statements of two Rite Aid security guards who identified him from a still photograph shown to them by an LAPD detective, Trock said. The detective believed after seeing the videotape that Cuevas was the man with the gun, Trock said.
Cuevas was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
However, several years later the tape was analyzed with the benefit of increased technology and it showed Cuevas was not one of the robbers, Trock said.
The information led a judge to find Cuevas factually innocent and he was released from prison in September 2008 after spending 1,627 days behind bars, according to Trock.
The $162,700 awarded Cuevas represents compensation of $100 for every day he was wrongly imprisoned, Trock said.
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