On September 12, 1980, a drug dealer named Robert Hosey was chased down and stabbed to death over a bad drug deal in Los Angeles, California. Two weeks later, Adam Miranda and an accomplice were caught on videotape robbing a mini-mart. In the course of the robbery, Miranda shot two clerks who were working behind the counter, one of whom – a man named Gary Black – was killed. On October 3, 1980, Miranda was arrested and charged with both murders; he was convicted of the robbery-murder of Gary Black in February of 1983. At the penalty phase of the robbery-murder trial, a man named Jose Saucedo was the primary witness for the prosecution. Saucedo told the jury that he saw Miranda chase Robert Hosey and stab him repeatedly, while he, Saucedo, played the Good Samaritan and tried to pull Miranda off his victim. This was the only aggravating evidence offered against Miranda, but it was enough to persuade the jury to sentence him to death. Following the Gary Black murder trial, Saucedo testified against Miranda again at the preliminary hearing in the Hosey killing. Miranda pled guilty to second-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison for that murder.
On appeal, Miranda’s appellate lawyers learned that the prosecution had concealed a great deal of evidence from the defense. While in jail, Saucedo had told at least five other inmates that he, not Miranda, had murdered the "black drug dealer" Hosey. He also threatened the family of one inmate in order to get him to tell the police that another man had confessed to the crime. Prior to sentencing Miranda for the murder of Gary Black, the prosecution received a letter from a man named Montez, who had shared a cell with Saucedo, recounting in detail Saucedo's confession to the Hosey murder. Montez and three other inmates were offered leniency in their own cases in exchange for agreeing to testify against Saucedo – and their willingness to testify was used in turn to persuade Saucedo to testify falsely against Miranda. None of this was disclosed to the defense.
With this new evidence, Miranda’s appellate lawyers filed petitions for habeas corpus for both murder convictions. On May 5, 2008, the California Supreme Court vacated Miranda’s conviction for the murder of Robert Hosey, and allowed him to withdraw his plea in that case; ten months later, the prosecution dismissed that murder charge. Also on May 5, 2008, the California Supreme Court vacated Miranda’s death sentence for the Gary Black robbery-murder because the prosecution had concealed evidence that the only witness in aggravation at the penalty phase had lied under oath, and was himself the killer in the murder he attributed to Miranda.
Miranda remains in prison, serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for the murder of Gary Black.
- Stephanie Denzel