CORONA (CBSLA.com) — An attorney for a Corona woman sentenced to life in prison for murdering her boyfriend says new evidence points to her innocence.
Kimberly Long, a mother of two and nurse, was convicted in the October 2003 murder of Oswaldo “Ozzy” Conde.
As CBS2’s Randy Paige reports, Conde and Long had gotten into a heated argument after a day and night of bar-hopping with friends.
Long, according to court records, left with a male friend, and sometime between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. – the exact time is in dispute – the friend gave her a ride home.
Long says she walked into the home she shared with Conde to find blood splattered in the living room and his bloody body on the sofa. He had been beaten to death. Court records show that Long called 911 at 2:09 a.m.
“This crime scene was covered in blood. It was a very violent murder, and there’s no way that the person who committed this murder wouldn’t have been covered in blood, and Kimberly had no blood on her,” said Justin Brooks, the director of the California Innocence Project at California Western School of Law in San Diego.
“This is one of those classic cases where the person who finds the dead person ends up becoming a suspect,” said Brooks, who is now representing Long.
Long’s first trial ended in a mistrial with nine of the 12 jurors voting not guilty and three voting guilty.
When tried a second time, that jury convicted her.
During her sentencing, the judge who presided over her case, Judge Patrick Magers, said: “If the court would have heard the evidence in this case, I would have found the defendant not guilty.”
“Her case was paper thin when it went to trial, and now when you consider what we know since then, it’s absolutely a certainty that she’s innocent,” Brooks said.
Brooks told Paige there is new evidence pointing to Long’s innocence, including DNA found on a cigarette butt that puts an unknown person at the scene of the crime.
“There’s some significant evidence Ozzy was dead long before Kimberly came home, but that wasn’t developed sufficiently and Kimberly ends up in this prison,” he said.
Long agreed to speak to Paige on camera, but the State Department of Corrections would not allow cameras inside the prison. Instead, CBS2 spoke to Long via a prison telephone.
When asked what she wanted people to know about her case, Long said: “That I’m factually innocent.
“That if you were to sit down and actually look at my case, that there’s nothing that points to me killing Ozzy. I’m actually factually innocent. And that’s what I want people to know. And that this could happen to anybody,” she said.
Brooks says the Innocence Project is petitioning the California Supreme Court to get the case reopened and he has petitioned the governor for clemency.
“The governor doesn’t even have to declare she’s innocent. He’s just got to say, ‘I looked at the case. The case is thin. There’s some evidence of innocence. She’s served time in prison and she should be granted clemency,’ ” Brooks said.
When asked if she believes she’ll be exonerated, an emotional Long said: “Oh, my gosh, absolutely, absolutely!”
“I think about it all the time. That’s what I do think about. I have these whole scenarios on … how it’s going to happen and who’s going to be there and what I’m going to say,” she said.
In the days after the murder, Long passed a polygraph examination.
Prosecutors in the case wouldn’t comment on the new evidence since it is being appealed to the California Supreme Court.