Obie Anthony: Wrongfully Jailed for 17 Years in L.A., Now Free

Everyone knows that our justice system is far from perfect. Jurors and judges do the best that they can to see that justice gets served, but sometimes they simply don't get it right. We've seen an influx of these kinds of mistakes in the past decade, thanks to the rise of DNA evidence. Researchers at the National Registry of Exonerations have reported that since 1989, there have been about 2,000 wrongful convictions. Some of these wrongful convictions are never identified, which results in an innocent person getting slapped with legal penalties or jail time that they don't deserve.

One case of exoneration after a particularly long period of being wrongfully punished for a crime comes to us from Los Angeles County. In March of 1994, Felipe Gonzales Angeles was killed in what was apparently an attempted robbery outside of a brothel in South Los Angeles. After receiving an anonymous tip, L.A.P.D. detectives charged Obie Anthony and Reggie Cole, two men who were already in county jail for carjacking charges that would later be dismissed.

Based on eyewitness testimony from John Jones, a pimp who oversaw the operation of the brothel near where Angeles was killed, prosecutors were able to convict Cole and Anthony on murder charges. The two men were sentenced to prison without parole, but the story took an interesting shift in 2000 after Reggie Cole stabbed another inmate to death. According to The Los Angeles TimesCole claimed that he acted in self-defense, but because another murder charge while he was already incarcerated could have lead to the death penalty, his prior conviction was investigated by the California Innocence Project.

Obie Anthony and Reggie Cole Seek Justice After a Los Angeles Investigation Finds Them Innocent

In 2009 a judge officially overturned the murder convictions of Obie Anthony and Reggie Cole, in part based on evidence that showed that Jones had fabricated his testimony. The two men were released from prison in 2011. While Cole ran into more legal trouble and is currently out on bail facing felony charges, in early March of 2015 the city of Los Angeles awarded Obie Anthony an $8.3 million settlement. During the suit, Anthony's attorneys argued that the prosecution in the case of Angeles' death were negligent in several ways:

  • Officers at the scene allegedly collected spent rounds and gave them to an LA Times reporter, Miles Corwin, who was writing a book
  • Ballistics analysts failed to test the bullets properly to determine which angle they were fired from
  • Prosecutors failed to investigate the character of several key witnesses in the testimony, including Jones

It's clear that an investigation into what happened the night that Felipe Angeles was murdered would have helped uncover the truth of how he was killed, saving two innocent men from spending nearly two decades in jail. Private investigators can also help people from being wrongfully incarcerated or penalized under the law for a crime they did not commit.

How Los Angeles Private Investigators Can Help Exonerate The Wrongfully Accused 

If you or someone you know has been wrongfully accused of a crime, getting assistance from a private investigator can be a smart decision. Here are a few ways that a Los Angeles private eye can help you find justice, just like Obie Anthony:

  • Interviewing witnesses who may have been around when the crime happened, to see whether or not the accuser's story checks out
  • Conducting background checks to learn about the criminal history of witnesses and accusers
  • Appearance in court as an expert witness to testify on behalf of someone wrongfully accused

Being wrongfully accused of a crime shouldn't make you give up on your efforts to exonerate yourself. Take the time to obtain the services of a dependable private investigator and you will stand a much better chance of defending your innocence in the courtroom.

Published on: 
April 20, 2015
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