In November 1934, 39-year-old locksmith from Long Beach, California, Milo C. Kerr was sentenced to spend five years to life in San Quentin State Prison for the robbery of $500 from the Hollywood Grand Central Market. Kerr maintained his innocence as he began serving his sentence.
Kerr’s attempt to appeal his conviction was denied in June 1935. The following year, when Kerr had been in prison for about eighteen months, he met a new inmate named Roy Witzel (also spelled Wetzel). The two men began talking about how they wound up in prison, and Kerr was astounded to learn that Roy Witzel was one of the three perpetrators of the Hollywood robbery for which Kerr was serving time in prison. Witzel and one of his two accomplices, Shelby Murdock, admitted guilt and confirmed that Kerr had not been involved in the crime – rather Kerr was a victim of eyewitness misidentification.
Based on Grand Jury testimony of Shelby Murdock confirming Kerr’s innocence, as well as the confession of Witzel, Kerr was paroled in November 1937. At the request of the State Advisory Pardon Board and all the justices of the California State Supreme Court, Milo C. Kerr then received a full pardon on April 1, 1938 from California Governor Frank Merriam. In 1949, Milo Kerr died at the age of 54.
- Meghan Barrett Cousino
The National Registry of Exonerations is a project of the Newkirk Center for Science & Society at University of California Irvine, the University of Michigan Law School and Michigan State University College of Law. It was founded in 2012 in conjunction with the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. The Registry provides detailed information about every known exoneration in the United States since 1989—cases in which a person was wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all the charges based on new evidence of innocence. The Registry also maintains a more limited database of known exonerations prior to 1989.
We welcome new information from any source about exonerations already on our list and about cases not in the Registry that might be exonerations.