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Charged At Age 15, 34-Year-Old Compton Man To Be Released From Prison

San Quentin State Prison. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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A 34-year-old Compton man is set to be released from jail after serving nearly 20 years for attempted murder.

Emom Barnes was 15 when he was tried as an adult and sentenced to 40 years to life in prison. The Project for the Innocent at Loyola Law School took up the case six years ago, and eventually, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office reviewed Barnes’s prison record and recent changes in juvenile sentencing laws.

Attorney Michael Petersen says that prompted the D.A. to send the court a motion to re-sentence Barnes based on current law.

“His first chance at parole would have been when he was 55 years old,” Petersen said. “Today, California doesn’t let that happen anymore. The law has changed so that 15-year-olds cannot be tried in adult court. And they can’t be sentenced to something like 40 years-to-life.”

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With new sentencing guidelines, Barnes has already done his time. He is expected to be released this week, after serving 19 years in San Quentin State Prison.

Project for the Innocent continues to work on proving Barnes was never guilty. Petersen says a juror tried to take back their decision after Barnes was tried, and that evidence consisted of a single eyewitness account.

Attorney Laurie Levenson told the L.A. Times that the attempted murder charges stemmed from two shootings tied to gang activity in Compton.


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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Michael Petersen's last name as Petersene.