SAN DIEGO — A man who spent 30 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit was released from Donovan State Prison in Otay Mesa on Wednesday.
With his family there to greet him and take him home, FOX 5 was on the scene to witness the interaction.
A son, a brother and an uncle — Umberto Duran, who goes by Beto, had an army of family waiting outside the prison gates for his first steps to freedom.
Beto, who is now 48-years-old, was wrongly accused and convicted of murder and attempted murder of a young man and woman 30 years ago. He has been fighting to prove his innocence for decades.
“I was 19-years-old when I got incarcerated for murder and attempted murder,” said Beto. “I’m feeling good — unbelievable. I can’t believe I’m out.”
His family never waivered in their belief of his innocence and said they were told nothing could be done for his case over and over again — for years.
“It was so many years of trying and so many shots down all the time,“ one of his relatives told FOX 5. “We cant help you, there’s nothing we can do, until finally someone said yeah – there’s something we can do.”
Eventually they were approached by Loyola Project for the Innocent (LPI), which presented a compelling argument for his parole Wednesday and is fighting to overturn his conviction.
“The evidence we will be presenting in court was actually available at the time of his trial,” said an LPI representative. “If Beto’s attorney had done any work on his case, he had a firm alibi and there were witnesses willing to testify at the time. Witnesses had come forward and told law enforcement who the actually perpetrator was.”
The LPI representative also said, “Beto’s trial attorney said on the record that he wasn’t going to mount a defense, he wasn’t going to present a defense for Beto.” She believes they will have his conviction overturned before the end of the year.
So while Beto is out for now, his fight is far from over. He will head back up Los Angeles with his family, but will live in a halfway house to get acclimated to life outside of prison. For now though, his mother just wants to take care of her son.
“She wants to catch up with him, feed him and make everything he wants to eat,” one of Beto’s family members translated on his mother’s behalf. That includes his favorites: chili relleno and spaghettis.
For Beto, the desires are much like those of the 19-year-old boy he once was – simple and care free.
“I would like to go fishing and read books, go to Disneyland and be with my parents,” Beto told FOX 5.