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Franklin Hamlin

On January 28, 1953, a San Francisco jewelry store was held up and diamond rings worth $2,800 were stolen. 40-year-old Franklin J. Hamlin, who had served time in prison for other crimes in the 1930s, was arrested in connection with the robbery.

Hamlin insisted he was not in San Francisco on the day of the robbery, but a San Francisco store clerk reported seeing him purchase a television a few hours after the robbery. The jeweler who had been robbed, Remo Bosia, and his assistant, Joseph Angeli, were both witnesses to the crime, and both men positively identified Hamlin as the robber. Based on these eyewitness identifications, Hamlin was convicted and sentenced to five years to life in San Quentin State Prison on October 30, 1934.

In early January 1954, 38-year-old Harry Kistler was arrested, along with two other men, for a string of robberies in northern California. During his interrogation, Kistler confessed to the jewelry store robbery for which Hamlin was in prison. Following Kistler’s detailed confession, California Governor Goodwin J. Knight granted a full pardon to Hamlin in January 1954.

Hamlin had maintained his innocence all along, saying he “almost went crazy” being in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. In August 1957, Hamlin received $5,000 from the State of California to compensate him for his wrongful imprisonment.

- Meghan Barrett Cousino

County:San Francisco
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Reported Crime Date:1953
Sentence:5 years to life
Age at the date of crime:40
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID