Frank O’Connell, the Glendora man imprisoned for , can officially say he is a free man today.
The District Attorney’s Office told a Pasadena court judge that they did not have enough evidence for a retrial and the case was dismissed Monday morning.
In 1985, O’Connell was convicted of the fatal shooting of 27-year-old a year earlier.
At the time, Sheriff’s deputies focused their investigation on O’Connell because they believed he was involved romantically with French’s ex-wife,
French had been embroiled in a child custody case with his ex-wife, Jeanne Lyon, and detectives believed O’Connell murdered French to help Lyon gain custody of her son, Jay, Jr.
Thanks to a 12-year investigation with Centurion Ministries, a nonprofit group dedicated to overturning wrongful convictions, O’Connell’s conviction was overturned in April.
The judge overturned O'Connell's conviction after the prosecution witness, who picked O'Connell out of a lineup, recanted saying he never really had a good look at the gunman on Jan. 5, 1984, on State Street in South Pasadena.
The witness, Daniel Druecker, also contended that he had been pressured by investigators. The judge also said sheriff's investigators had failed to disclose evidence of another possible suspect who was allegedly suspected of trying to kill French four years earlier.
Following the overturned conviction, the D.A.’s Office announced plans to retry O’Connell’s case.
Although the D.A.’S office determined there was not enough evidence for a retrial, they requested the case be dismissed “without prejudice” so that if further evidence was found, they can pursue the case again.
With Monday’s hearing and case dismissal over within minutes, the O’Connell family is celebrating the end of a 27-year ordeal.
“We are overwhelmingly joyful. We waited so long for this,” O’Connell’s sister Annajean Arbogast told Patch Monday morning. “He’s a free man, he’s ready to move on with his life.”
Still, Arbogast said they were hopeful investigators would continue to find the person responsible for French’s death.
“I know what they are going through must be hurtful,” Arbogast said of the French family, who “They deserve closure with the truth.”
- City News Service contributed to this report.