Glendora Man Free After 1984 Murder Case is Dismissed

The District Attorney's Office said there was not enough evidence to retry Frank O’Connell in the 1984 murder of Jay French.

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.

Brian Worthmore June 11, 2012 at 06:48 PM
It is apparent that our justice system is terribly flawed when so many innocent people need to be locked up for the system to work. It's not even about the person on trial it's a battle between two teams who's job it is to beat each other, sometimes at any cost. Not everybody is going to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth just because they swore to God. The truth is most people will say whatever they have to say to stay out of jail and they can apologize to God at a later date if they feel it necessary. You may as well have two fighters go at it in the ring to get the verdict. My guy wins I'm free, my guy loses I'm sentenced. As odds go, I feel as much as 30% of those incarcerated may be innocent. How many times has an inmate told a guard he's innocent and the guard say's he hear's that all the time? The guard has to do his job and not let that inmate get into his head. Therefore if the person was convicted, even though innocent the guard has to believe in his mind this incarcerated person in guilty or it would make him crazy. I'm not sure if all the inmates who's convictions have been overturned are innocent but thank God for organizations & individuals who don't give up on the people they feel are innocent and reopen these cases using new DNA techonlogy. Because if the wrong guy is inside that means the wrong guys is still outside. And that's not justice.
John June 13, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Though our justice system is not perfect, it is the closest thing to it that anyone has come up with. Beyond a reasonable doubt is pretty concrete. 12 people have to agree without a doubt that you are guilty to be convicted. Plus, I have yet to come across a criminal that owns up for their actions...they are all victims in their own minds. In this case, whether Mr. O'Connell is really guilty or innocent, I am glad the court system took a second look when the witness changed his or her story. I just wish they told the truth 27 years ago. As far as the 30% stat you came up with...wow. That would be saying that 30 in 100 prisoners had nothing to do with the case at all. Certainly you are entitled to your opinion; we will never know the true statistic since 99% of criminals are pathological liars and NEVER own up to the crimes they commit, but the true statistic would certainly fall far below your estimation. Physical evidence does not lie, and almost all cases contain it. It sounds like this case did not have much as far as physical evidence goes, but whatever witness testimony they did have must have been the cornerstone to the case and pretty convincing to the jury the first time around.
Bob K. June 13, 2012 at 07:21 PM
The defender thought it was a slam dunk case and recommended a trial by judge. I am sure a jury of twelve would not have come to the same conclusion. It was a sloppy, lazy job by all involved. There are people that are really good at their jobs and many that are just plain incompetent. This was the Laurel and Hardy team.
Bill C. June 14, 2012 at 12:42 AM
30% is a made up figure based on "feelings". The very vast majority of the incarcerated are guilty not only of the crimes they were convicted of but many they got away with.


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