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Luther Jones, Jr.

Other California Sexual Assault Exonerations
https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/PublishingImages/Lake_County_California.png
In October 1997, 51-year-old Luther Jones, Jr. was charged with sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend’s 10-year-old daughter in Lake County, California.

Jones went to trial in Lake County Superior Court in February 1998. The girl testified that Jones forced her to perform oral sex on him and digitally penetrated her on five different occasions.  A physician who examined the girl a year after the girl said the assault occurred said there was physical evidence consistent with having been sexually assaulted.

Jones testified and denied that he had sexually assaulted the girl. He told the jury that he and the girl’s mother had a two-year-old daughter. After he was convicted of domestic violence following an assault on the girl’s mother, he and the mother were in a legal battle over custody of the two-year-old. Jones told the jury that he believed the girl’s mother had pressured her to falsely accuse him to obtain custody of his two-year-old daughter. Another woman testified that she heard the girl’s mother say that she would never let Jones obtain custody of the two-year-old girl.

A mistrial was declared when the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, voting 7 to 5 to convict Jones. In April 1998, Jones was convicted at a second trial and sentenced to 27 years in prison.

In 2015, the victim told family members that her mother had pressured her to falsely accuse Jones so that she would get custody of the two-year-old. In February 2016, the victim told the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office that she had lied at the trial. She told an investigator for the prosecution that she was tired of having a “heavy heart” about Jones. She said that she was one of six children that her mother, who abused drugs, had with five different fathers and that that she had been sexually assaulted by one of her mother’s boyfriends, but not by Jones.

Donald Anderson, Lake County District Attorney, filed a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus on February 15, 2016 seeking to vacate Jones’s convictions. On February 17, 2016, the motion was granted, charges were dismissed and Jones was released. In April 2016, Jones was granted a certificate of innocence. He was awarded $936,880 in state compensation in July 2016. Jones died in December 2016.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 2/18/2016
Last Updated: 2/23/2017
State:California
County:Lake
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1996
Convicted:1998
Exonerated:2016
Sentence:27 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:50
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No