‘I Thought About This Day For So Long’: Two Men Are Expected to Receive Only $140 for Each Day of the 17 Years They Spent Behind Bars for Crimes They Did Not Commit

Two California men who were convicted 19 years ago for a crime they did not commit have finally been declared innocent by the courts. A judge has noted that since another person confessed to the crime, their records should be wiped clean — and they should receive compensation for each day of incarceration.

Dupree Glass, 36 and Juan Rayford, 37, who were locked up as teenagers, will now receive $140 for each day of the almost 17 years they served behind bars for a 2004 attempted murder.

Juan Rayford, Jr., and Dupree Glass have spent half of their lives in prison for a crime that they did not commit. (Law office of Annee Della Donna)

A new law sets each man up to receive from the state’s Victims Compensation Board about $900,000 in restitution, according to CBS News, now that their innocence has been officially declared.

The case was brought before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge H. Clay Jacke, who made the life-changing decision.

“I find that Mr. Rayford and Mr. Glass were not shooters, nor did they aid and abet the actual shooters,” he said from his bench according to ABC 7.

Lawyers for the men say their client’s case is the first one to benefit from the new law that guarantees compensation for defendants whose cases have been dismissed and are able to present evidence that proves innocence.

Glass and Rayford both had their convictions vacated in 2020 after a state appeals panel was disrupted by a dramatic confession from a man who declared himself the gunman in the 2004 shooting which left two teenagers injured.

Chad Brandon McZeal, a gang member already serving a life conviction for an unrelated murder, shattered the prosecution’s case with his testimony. As a result, the men were allowed to walk free for the first time since Glass was 17 and Rayford was 18.

A trial to determine their innocence started in October 2022 and culminated on April 20, 2023.

“I thought about this day for so long. I thought about it when I was locked up for 17 years. I thought about it for my last two years being free. I waited for this day because, you know, I knew I was innocent of every crime they said I committed,” Rayford, now a father, said after the ruling.

Glass also commented, saying the day the Thursday of the judge’s ruling was “wonderful,” and ended a “20-year nightmare.”

“It’s finally over. We can go on with our lives,” Glass said.

On the day of the incident, shots were fired into the victims’ Lancaster home during an altercation with a group of kids. Glass admits he did go to the victims’ house but only to fight, the Los Angeles Times reports.

While he was there someone started shooting and the young man fled. Ten days after the shooting, Glass recalls his picture being on a wanted poster for attempted murder.

During their original trial, the prosecution successfully argued under the “kill zone” theory that Glass and Rayford planned on murdering 11 people around them.  

The co-defendants were convicted of 11 counts of attempted murder and sentenced to 11 consecutive life sentences.

Ten months after the incident, Glass had to reconcile the idea that he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison for the crime.

Never wavering on their stories, Glass and Rayford had always maintained they were not the shooters behind two others sustaining non-life-threatening injuries.

“That trial never should have been brought in the first place. There was no evidence tying them to the shooting. Zero,” defense attorney Annee Della Donna said, noting that neither of the men had criminal records at the time.

Della Donna even stated the then-young men “never had a gun.”

In fact, for at least five years, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office had been aware of witness statements that suggested Glass and Rayford were wrongfully convicted. Still, nothing was done and they remained in jail until the 2020 law was introduced and they were allowed to present their case again before the court.

Glass and Rayford owe a great deal of their freedom to the hard work of the Innocence Rights project at the University of California, Irvine School of Law.

Defense attorney Eric Dubin said Jacke was meticulous in detailing why he was declaring the men innocent, a necessary ruling for them to benefit from the new law.

He said the judge gave “a long, detailed ruling exonerating them for any and all crimes,” proving for the lawyer a first in his three-decade career.

“Today the judge righted a wrong. In my over 30 years of trying cases, I’ve never experienced such a magical moment where I’m able to see justice come to light so vividly,” Dubin said.

This is not the end of Glass and Rayford’s saga. The lawyers plan to file lawsuits against the state, county, and district attorney’s office for wrongful prosecution.

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