Joaquin Ciria has always maintained his innocence in a 1990 murder, and today he is a free man, the first person exonerated by DA Boudin’s Innocence Commission.
On the night of March 25, 1990, 30-year-old Felix Bastarrica was shot and killed outside the Bay Bridge Hotel in SoMa. Not long after, SF police arrested then-28-year-old Joaquin Ciria, and he was convicted of the murder the following year. He’s always maintained his innocence, and someone knew he was correct — the actual killer’s getaway car driver.
Now, 32 years and half of Ciria’s life in prison later, that getaway car driver has come forward and told the truth. And on Monday, the Chronicle reports that Ciria’s conviction has been overturned, and he will be released from prison.
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
“Wrongful convictions continue to plague our justice system at great cost to the families, victims, and accused persons whose lives are devastated when the wrong person is convicted of a crime,” SF District Attorney Chesa Boudin said in a statement. “Prosecutors have a duty to promote justice and correct injustices. Mr. Ciria spent more than 30 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Although we cannot give him back the decades of his life lost we are thankful that the court has corrected this miscarriage of justice.”
Ciria is the first person to be exonerated by Boudin’s Innocence Commission, established in September 2020. While he has not been technically declared innocent, his conviction is overturned, and Boudin will not pursue charges on a new trial. Ciria’s attorney tells Mission Local that she will pursue a formal declaration of innocence, which would entitle Ciria to $140 a day recompensation for time spent in prison.
The most uplifting part of this, though, is that Ciria will be able to get to know his son Pedro, who was only six weeks old when his father was taken into custody. “It feels good,” Pedro told the Chronicle. Pedro is now 32 years old.
Image @umanoide via Unsplash