December 13, 2023
Media Relations Division
District Attorney Gascón Announces Exonerations of Two Men Wrongfully Convicted of Murder in Two Separate Cases
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced today the exonerations and release of Giovanni Hernandez and Miguel Solorio, each who collectively spent decades in prison for murders they did not commit as teenagers.
“It’s truly devastating when people are wrongfully convicted, especially when they were so young at the time of their arrest. In the case of Mr. Solorio, he was 19 years old. Mr. Hernandez was just 14 years old.” District Attorney Gascón said. “These cases not only highlight the tragic impact on the lives of those directly affected but also underline the impact to the family and friends left behind. I am committed to ensuring that lessons are learned from this grave error, and that steps are taken to prevent similar injustices from occurring in the future.”
Sarah Pace, an attorney for Northern California Innocence Project on Solorio’s case, said, “Miguel’s 25 years of wrongful incarceration shows how important it is for law enforcement to follow all leads and avoid tunnel vision, to present witnesses with a particular suspect only one time, and to recognize that, according to the new scientific consensus, when witnesses don’t identify the suspect, it points to their innocence.”
Marisa Harris, an attorney for the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic at Loyola Law School in Hernandez’s case, said, “Gio was only 14 years old when he was sentenced to die in prison for a crime he did not commit. Like so many young people serving long, adult sentences in California’s prisons, Gio was given no hope for a future outside of prison walls. However, despite this grave injustice, Gio found his way to the light.”
In a news conference, District Attorney Gascón apologized to Giovanni Hernandez and Miguel Solorio for their wrongful convictions and praised the work of both his Conviction Integrity and Habeas units, emphasizing that their work helped bring added evidence and transparency to the criminal legal process.
Hernandez was 14 years old when he was arrested and charged for a drive-by shooting that took place in 2006 in Culver City that resulted in the death of 16-year-old Gary Ortiz.
Hernandez’s first trial in December 2010 ended in a hung jury. In his second trial in June 2012, a jury convicted Hernandez of all charges.
Hernandez and his family have always maintained his innocence knowing he was at home with his family at the time of the shooting.
On July 22, 2015, Hernandez submitted his first claim to LADA’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) for conviction review but it was denied.
On April 5, 2021, Hernandez’s case was resubmitted to the CIU for review consideration by attorney Marisa Harris of the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic at Loyola Law School.
The CIU’s in-depth investigation resulted in new exculpatory evidence and new statements from witnesses previously not interviewed or contacted at the time of the original investigation. An analysis of Hernandez’s cell phone records corroborated the investigation by showing the cellphone in his possession was not at or near the location of the shooting and supports his alibi that he was at home at the time of the shooting.
Mr. Solorio was 19 years old when he was arrested in 1998 for a fatal drive-by shooting in Whittier.
On Dec. 6, 1998, at about 11 p.m., a man and his friends drove under the I-605 overpass looking to purchase marijuana. They encountered men demanding to know their gang affiliation. After the man sped away, Mary Bramlett, 81, was shot and killed as she stopped at the same intersection the man had raced through moments earlier.
Solorio was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. He has always maintained his innocence.
On May 11, 2021, Solorio through his attorney, Ellen Eggers, submitted an innocence claim with LADA’s CIU requesting a review of his case. The Northern California Innocence Project joined as co-counsel on the case and filed a habeas petition in July of 2023. The CIU’s investigation and our Habeas Unit’s review of the new evidence led to the conclusion that Solorio was misidentified as his brother Pedro Solorio in a photo lineup.
The LADA and Solorio, through Eggers and the Northern California Innocence Project, requested that his conviction be vacated, that his case be dismissed and that he be released from prison after nearly 25 years.
The exonerations announced today mark the third and fourth exonerations this year.