On April 4, 1996, police found a handgun hidden in a boot box during a search of Ronald Reno’s car in Fresno, California. Reno maintained that the gun did not belong to him but was instead property of his acquaintance Preston Marsh.
Though he maintained his innocence, Reno, a twice convicted felon, was convinced by his attorney to plead guilty to possession of a hand gun, and he was sentenced 25 years to life under California’s “Three Strikes” law. Several years later, Reno encountered Marsh in prison and Marsh freely admitted the gun belonged to him. Marsh provided a declaration to his attorney stating that he had hidden the gun in Reno’s car and that Reno had been completely unaware of it.
Based on this evidence, Reno petitioned for habeas corpus. In a deal struck with the prosecutor on January 22, 2002, Reno plead guilty to a single misdemeanor of fraudulent use of a credit card in exchange for the granting of the writ, the dismissal of the felony charges, and credit for time already served. He was released from prison the next day.
– Charles Armbrust