Once released, Ciria is entitled to financial compensation under California state law, at a rate of $140 per day for the 32 years he spent in prison, which amounts to a little over $1.6 million dollars, according to the California Victim Compensation Board.
Joaquin Ciria spent three decades in prison for allegedly murdering his friend in San Francisco. Despite losing thirty years of his life, he always maintained that he was not responsible for the crime.
The 61-year-old man was convicted of murder in 1991 for the shooting death of Felix Bastarrica, according to CNN. However, Ciria was exonerated on April 18, 2022, exactly 32 years to the date of his arrest, following an extensive review and investigation by the San Francisco District Attorney's Innocence Commission, San Francisco District Attorney, Chesa Boudin said in an online statement.
Back in '91, he was arrested despite not having any physical evidence linking him to the crime, but San Francisco police inspectors focused their investigation on him "based on rumors on the street and statements of the getaway driver, George Varela," according to the district attorney.
In reality, Bastarrica had been killed by a mutual acquaintance of Varela and Ciria, the Northern California Innocence Project said in a news release. Verala, in exchange for complete immunity, testified he drove Ciria to and from the crime scene. He was also under extreme pressure from police to identify Ciria at the time, despite Ciria having two alibi witnesses who were never heard at trial, the district attorney said.
Joaquin Ciria was arrested in 1990 and convicted of shooting and killing his friend, Felix Bastarrica, in San Francisco. His conviction was based on false witness testimony and police misconduct, according to the San Francisco DA. https://t.co/Tlynv4qLCT pic.twitter.com/FK9jUjO9aN— ABC News (@ABC) April 19, 2022
"It's very hard, you know? Seeing your kid; them taking away your son. It's sad, seeing your child growing up by himself," Ciria's mother Yojana Paiz told KPIX. "But finally, we're here. We're at the end now. He's gonna be out. Whatever God has for us, we have to accept it.
For three decades, Paiz stayed in touch with her innocent son via visits and phone calls. Ciria's attorney, Ellen Eggers, and Northern California Innocence Project attorney Paige Kaneb brought his case to the DA's Innocence Commission for review and after a four-month investigation, Boudin made his decision to exonerate Ciria.
Ciria's legal team even provided new evidence that showed he was convicted based on false testimony for another man's crime, the district attorney said. Ciria's case was the first reviewed by the Innocence Commission since it was formed in 2020.
"Promoting justice in our legal system requires us not only to move forward but also to look backward," Boudin said. "Wrongful convictions cause concentric circles of harm: to the wrongfully convicted, to the crime victims who were told a false story and re-traumatized, to the jurors who unwittingly participated in the injustice, and to the integrity of the system as a whole. When someone has been wrongly convicted, it is incumbent upon prosecutors to correct that injustice."
Ciria is currently in the San Francisco County jail after being transported from Folsom Prison last week, Eggers said. He is expected to be released in a week's time.
Joaquin Ciria was arrested in 1990 for a murder in San Francisco that he insists he didn’t commit.— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) April 18, 2022
32 years later, a Superior Court judge overturned the conviction and granted a new trial after a request from S.F. District Attorney Chesa Boudin. https://t.co/ROQx4iv3YS
Once released, Ciria is entitled to financial compensation under California state law, at a rate of $140 per day for the 32 years he spent in prison, which amounts to a little over $1.6 million, according to the California Victim Compensation Board.
"As a result of this wrongful conviction, the State stole 32 birthdays, 32 Christmases, 32 years in which he could not be with his son for all the special moments," Kaneb said in an online statement. "Yet Joaquin has kept his big heart and easy smile and is full of joy as he looks forward to starting his life again."
Cover Image Source: YouTube | KPIX CBS SF Bay Area (Wrongfully Convicted Bay Area Man Finally Free After 32 Years In Prison)