Men accused in 1998 murder face judge after Oceanside man exonerated

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RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Googie Harris Sr. and Joaquin Leal faced murder charges for the first time Tuesday after investigators say the men had been pinning the death of Terry Cheek on an innocent man for 20 years.

Investigators say they now have DNA evidence that exonerates 60-year-old Horace Roberts of Oceanside and implicates Harris and Leal for the strangulation death of Cheek near Corona Lake in Riverside County in 1998.

Roberts was wrongfully convicted of the crime and spent 20 years and six months behind bars before being released last week when the California Innocence Project was able to get his case overturned.

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Investigators say the motive for the killing could have been because of an affair between Roberts and Cheek. Harris, now charged with his wife’s murder, was also known for showing up at every parole hearing for Roberts and testifying against his release.

Now Roberts is receiving $1.1 million from the state for being wrongfully convicted.

Harris and Leal will now face prosecutors with their futures on the line. They are being held on $1 million bail and are expected to be back in court Nov. 1. If convicted on all counts, they face 25 years to life in prison.

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