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South central Los Angeles was plagued by gang violence and Karen Newsom's neighborhood, the Block Crips and the 11 Duse Hoovers ran the streets. Kierra avoided the gang life, but it still took the life of her boyfriend, Michael Norman, on December 10th, 2000. On April 16th, 2001, in retaliation for another gang shooting, three female Hoovers rolled up to some block Crips. And one of the women got out and shot into the crowd, mortally wounding Kristian.


And she got back into the car and shot again as she sped away, grazing the torso of Shauntay Allen. The shooter was described as African-American in her 20s with a lazy eye and a tattoo on her upper right thigh. This incident happened at eleven, thirty a.m. on a school day 10 miles from work here. Newsome was in class, but despite this rock solid alibi and the fact that she didn't have a car or even a driver's license, the prosecution came up with a theory that Kierra, in retaliation for her boyfriend's murder, had somehow snuck out of her lockdown school, changed your clothes, dyed her hair, drove over 30 minutes to the scene, committed the crime and somehow managed to return to her desk just seven feet from her teacher.


With her absence going completely unnoticed, but with coerced eyewitnesses and the fact that she happened to have a tattoo on her upper right thigh, Kierra ended up serving nearly 20 years, tormented by her codefendant, Danielle Flynn, a.k.a. Astro, who is believed to have been the actual shooter. This is wrongful conviction with Jason Pflaum. Welcome back to wrongful conviction. Today, I am so excited and honored because I have, first of all, Chris Hawthorne. Chris is the founder, director and clinical professor at the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic at Loyola Law School.


Welcome to wrongful conviction. Thanks, Jason. I appreciate it. And with him, the featured guest on our show today is the one and only Kara Newsome. And Kara, thank you for being here. Thank you, Jason. And this story, it's a California story. And here you grew up in south central L.A. Can you tell us what that was like growing up in south central L.A.?


My father grew up without his dad, so he gravitated to the gang lifestyle, which most young man do. And the neighborhood I grew up in, the blocks and the Hoovers are what we consider to be enemies. They always have gang violence. Before I was 17 years old, I went to so many funerals, I can't even tell you. But one thing I can say is that my mom was always the type of person she really imposed education on this big time, you know?




And I understand you did very well at school, and that's despite all of the violence and hardship that surrounded you, including one murder that hit so close to home. And that was a murder that actually started the snowball effect that ended in your tragic wrongful conviction. I'm referring, of course, to the murder of your boyfriend, Marquel Norman, who at the time of his death was, in fact, 11 Deuce Hoover. But he wasn't in a gang at age 13 when you started dating markelle at the time was the straight-A student living with his grandmother.


So when his grandmother passed away, MARKELLE and his sisters had to go back and live with his mom, she was addicted to crack cocaine. So when he went back to live with his mom, there were times that they didn't have food to eat. So I would sneak food out of my grandmother's house in my mother's house to make sure that they would be able to eat. So one day in particular, I remember him calling me and he told me that he was going to be put on the gang and I was so upset.


But then he started to explain to me the benefits that the gang was giving him. He'll have means to provide for his sisters and his mom and everything was going to be OK. And he really believed that he believed it so much that he could go to school and be a straight-A student and be a gang member outside of school. And that's what our whole little bit was about. And he was able to keep up that little facade for like the first report card or so.


And I lost the bet. And that's how I ended up with the tattoo that I have. So. After that, things begin to change, MARKELLE got deeper into the gang and I was barely seeing them and I will never forget when my mom looked me in my eyes and she said, I'm going to end up walking you to a jail to see this boy and walking you to a grave site to see this boy.


And of course, you're talking about what happened on December 10th of 2000.


And I was on a Sunday. It was a church day and it was early. And I remember walking outside and I remember seeing MARKELLE and he had an all black and I remember a car driving down the street looking at us. Well, we turned around, these guys were no longer in a car. One was on the sidewalk. One was standing in the street. They both had their arms posted to us and they had something covering their arms. And you can hear the gunshots.


Mark helped push me out the way. And I ran into the house and I look out the window, I see markelle laying on the ground. And I remember what he turned his body around. He had a gash at the top of his head. And that's when I knew that he was shot.


I don't think many people have probably ever lived through anything nearly as traumatic as that. And it's hard to believe that that was just the beginning of this awful journey. It's at this point, too, that the first hero in the story emerges right when I'm talking about the principal at Duke Ellington High School.


Yes, his name is Mr. McGlinn. When that happened to Mark Cahill and I became a witness, I didn't know at the time that the gang members ran into the school looking to kill me. Mr. McClain called my mom and he said, no, don't bring her back here. I got to school for her. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't be here today.


So the school charter was they lockdown school normally for kids who were involved in the juvenile justice system. Kiara wasn't involved in the juvenile justice system, but she was definitely in danger. And so she was safer at a lockdown school than a regular school.


Now things get really complicated. April 15th, 2001, Easter Sunday, when three associates of the Hoovers were shot in the parking lot of Red's liquor store on West Century Boulevard. That's Rudy Tinie Head and another man. And then the victims returned to a party and police showed up at the party to ask questions about the shooting.


One of the things about gang shootings is most people who participate in gangs are teenagers and they tend to be really reactive. Most of what they do is very impetuous and very sudden. So it makes sense that the next day someone from the LAPD Hoovers would try to take a shot at the Block Crips. It's not typical. You wait around for four months before you decide to react to a shooting. So why the police didn't look at Red's liquor store is a mystery to me, especially since Rudy, who was one of the guys in the car who was shot at, was the boyfriend of one of the women who was in the car the next day.


Yeah, I mean, this is we're talking literally the day afterwards at eleven thirty in the morning on April 16, 2001, when three young African-American women pulled up in front of fourteen thirty five West, one hundred and Thirteen Street in the Westmont neighborhood of Los Angeles, there was a group of men outside, all of whom were Black Crips. One of the women got out of the car and this is important. So she was described as wearing all red tube, top corduroy shorts, sneakers and visor.


One or more of the men on the scene described her as having a lazy eye and a name tattooed on her upper right thigh. So she asked about someone named Makia, but none of the men knew who she was talking about. The young woman then walked back to the car, turned and fired a handgun once into the group of men, mortally wounding Christian Henton. And the woman got into the car. They sped off and she fired a few more rounds grazing Shauntay Allen's torso.


But Allen luckily survived. Henton, however, died two weeks later in the hospital. They said that the woman who had shot Christian Entin was in her early 20s and fairly tall here, still looking kind of like a baby. Then she's still a teenager. I mean, it would have seemed obvious for them to look towards whoever named Danielle Flynn, also known as Astro, who would have been retaliating for the shooting of her boyfriend and the two other Hoovers the night before.


Right. But one way or another, the really important part of this is that we know exactly where Kiara was at the time of the shooting in my classroom.


And how do we know that you were in your classroom?


I signed in in the morning. My teacher collected accounts all throughout the day. And they would have noticed if I would have left, they would have caught the police on me because that's what the school does.


Would you have been able to show up at school wearing all red? No, I wear uniform, white polo shirt, black pants, a couple of other things about that school. The classroom she was in where her teacher, Rebecca Woodruff, taught her is very small and Rebecca's desk was about six to seven feet from Kira's desk.


Hi, I'm Rebecca Woodruff. I was Chiara Newsom's teacher in the spring of 2001. There was only one door to my classroom and I always had a view of the door, whether I was at my desk or in front of the class, and my desk was actually positioned between the door and the students. So it's just impossible for somebody to get out and come back and have me not noticed right away. And even if somebody were to have gotten past me, which wouldn't happen, the front door was operated by the secretary and she kept it locked and they would have to be buzzed in or out.


And the back door led to a locked gate on top of the locked gate with barbed wire. And it was the day after Easter that day. And I had actually noticed that Chiara had purple hair braided in. She had said that her grandmother had done it for her. So everyone know what African-American ladies to take. Braith, they'll that will have to take you anywhere from three to six hours. It just don't make sense. No one's going to miss the fact that you have purple hair.


But strangely enough, nobody said that in the description. But still, anyone who wanted to believe that you were actually the shooter would have had to believe is that somehow or other you vanished into thin air without your teacher who was seven feet away from you, noticing it snuck through multiple doors that were locked, climbed over barbed wire, got into a car, which I don't even know if you had a car, changed your outfit. Drove 10 miles, which would have been at least a 30 minute drive, because L.A. traffic, God knows it could be a two hour drive and then killed someone calmly change your clothes back, dispose of the other outfit and magically snuck back into the thing, set down your seat.


And she also managed to die her hair on the way while she was speeding through traffic. It's all so preposterous. So the state had nothing except for three eyewitnesses.


These guys who were on the lawn were definitely intimidated, not only by members of their own gang, but also by Daniel Flynn, who had a fearsome reputation in the neighborhood. In addition to that, they really didn't want to talk to the police. They didn't think it was any of the police's business. I've had local law enforcement complain to me saying, like, you know, the problem to talking to gang members is they just don't want to talk to us.


And I said the problem is that nobody wants to talk to you. It's never a good thing when a policeman is walking up your front walk appearing at your door. No one wants to talk to police in these neighborhoods. They're not bringers of good tidings. They're not people who help you. They are only people who make your life more difficult. Ryan Foust, of course, only appeared in court because the police threatened him with an arrest. In another matter, Joe Cooke, of course, didn't appear in court after his preliminary hearing.


He fled to Mississippi, where they were apparently unable to find him and they had to arrest Bobby Johnson to get him into court. But none of them particularly care about telling the truth on the stand because they don't regard this as a police thing. This is a block Krip 11 Deuce Hoover thing. And frankly, they don't care who goes down for it. What they care about is their own value system and what they're going to do about it on the street.


But talking about the street, every person I talked to in this case knew who actually did this crime. It's not a secret. The killer is innocent.


So June 5th of 2001, they brought you to the precinct right under the auspices of looking at a lineup to find your boyfriend's killer. But that was not what they had in mind by this time.


They already came out to my grandmother's house, at least five or six times, trying to get me to put the murder off on a black member and I wouldn't do it. So I'm like, OK, I'll go see these lineups. So I remember them picking me up. And my dad Secura the longest they could hold you a 72 hours. And I'm thinking in my head, like, why would he say that? You know, when we got there and they were like, Kiara Newsome.


And I'm like, yes. So I walked to the guy. I'll never forget this. He has a poster in his hand. And I was so in shock. It's like my soul left my body. Istat wanted for murder and unlike murder, who did a murder and they put the handcuffs on me. All you hear is chains. I was placed in the hallway. The woman stripped me down and looked for tatoos in a room full of men.


I was only seventeen and I'm not understanding why I'm here. I believe for seventy two hours that I was arrested for the murder of MARKELLE.


This episode is brought to you by Stand Together, Stand Together is a philanthropic community dedicated to helping people improve their lives. For more than 20 years stand together and its partners have been on the front lines of criminal justice reform by empowering people to take action, supporting nonprofits and working with businesses. Stand together, tackles the root causes of problems in our communities and empowers those closest to the problems to drive solutions. Solutions like reducing unjust prison sentences to the first step act, empowering community based programs that help people re-enter society, and now working to bridge divides in our communities.


To learn how you may get involved, visit. Stand together again. Conviction. When did they reveal to you that they were going to charge you with a different murder entirely?


I walk into the room and I notice one of the old detectives from Markle's case and a new detective. I remember sitting down and them starting to ask to me about Mr. Krysti hinting at all these people. Then they're saying all this stuff about retaliation from our Marquel Anderson. And I'm confused. And then they bring up Ashboro now. And I'm really confused. Then when he say the day that it happened, the time it all hit, I'm in school at that time and now and I'm hopeful because unlike Sounness, he go back, he talks to my parents, they go down to the school, they get the paperwork, they bring it.


I'm free to go. I've seen all the investigative materials in this case. And the police were focused on Kierra very early in this investigation and they didn't check her alibi out until after they had arrested her in June.


They originally targeted Kierra as the driver of the car in this murder, I think because they thought that the person who was the shooter answered the description of Daniel Flynn pretty well. But then they discovered that Kierra couldn't drive. And so suddenly they put her on the street shooting Christian Hinton. Right.


And so now, you know, she would have had have been leaving school and then driving a car that didn't exist with a license she didn't have. They're willing to go to just extraordinary lengths not to serve and protect, but to frame and destroy. Now comes the next phase going through the courts and the juvenile and the jail systems. You were a minor, so they started you off in juvie where you were at least safe from Danielle Flynn's reach at that time.


But that was temporary. It was only till you turned 18 and then you were sent to the women's jail. So now Delphin has access to you.


For the first time I've heard about her, but I've never seen her in action, you know, so my attorney at the time, Mr. Taken, he felt that the best thing was to get me separated from her. He did a court order to come through and they switched my wristband. So we were to not even be in the same dorm as each other, let alone the same holding tank as each other or the same bus. So when we went to court that day and that was my first time running towards her, she walks into the room as she sits down next to me.


And this lady is like the devil itself, she says, oh, everything is going to be fine, it's going to be all right. I need you to take this one for me. I need you to go to trial with me. That's how she does me with the what do you need me to go to trial with you for? Because at this time, we're trying to separate this case and get far away from her as possible, you know, and right then and there, it was like a switch popped up in her head and she just went crazy.


She spit on me and I jumped back and the officers came in, grabbed their they took her out. That was the first attack. So they they separate us. We went on two separate buses and everything, and then all of a sudden we're through the jail was I was a snitch. Don't snitches tell telling people don't snitches. No. What actually happened? I don't understand how she manipulated these people to believe that I was a snitch. And our next court date, the police officers put us on the same floor and I walk past and I heard somebody go snitch.


It was her. She kicked me and she got all to me and it was an officer. I'll never forget this. She jumped on top of my back and she had me down and she said, don't do anything. We've seen everything. So we were late for court that day.


We're talking December 4th, 2002, during jury selection, Care's lawyer files a nine nine five motion to dismiss on the grounds of the teacher Rebecca Woodruff's testimony. The judge dismisses the case on the credibility of the testimony. OK, then six hours later, the D.A. indicts and was rearrested. So when she's alone with the detective in his car, he drove her to a motel, the magic carpet, where he offered her a deal, have sex with him and he'll give her an hour to run care.


Refused. He brought her in and while booking her and taking her fingerprints, he asked if the finger he was holding at the time was the one she masturbated with. The room was full of chuckles from the other officers.


I sometimes think that the police never actually wanted Kira to go down for this murder, but they were hoping that if they put her in terror, in fear of her life, that eventually Kira would break and she would tell them everything she knew. Unfortunately, she didn't know anything because care is not a gang member. And in part, that's why she ended up getting convicted here, because everybody else in this case is a member of a gang and people have their back.


But no one ever had is back because she was not a member of a gang. She was an outsider. The police were looking out for themselves. Gang members are looking out for themselves. No one is looking out for Kiara. And that's just wrong.


I mean, now we get to the trial. They put her on trial with Danielle Flynn, who the prosecution had now decided was the driver on that date. And Kiara was defended by Anthony Brown, a guy named Larry Williams defended Flynn and the witnesses had described this tattoo on the upper right thigh of the shooter. The thing is, both Chiara and Doyle Flynn have a tattoo on their right thigh. It's it's a crazy coincidence. But in a preliminary hearing, something quite consequential and very shady transpired.


Chiara has a tattoo on her thigh, very, very high on her thigh, almost on her hip. Daniel Flynn has a tattoo much lower on the thigh, which is quite visible when you're wearing shorts. However, at the preliminary hearing when Joe Cook was testifying, Daniel's lawyer did something that I think should be in the Museum of Clever Tricks by defense attorneys. He said, I'd like to have my client, Daniel Flynn, pull up her pants leg and showed that she doesn't have a tattoo on her thigh, which Daniel did, but she only pulled it up about three or four inches above her knee.


And so the tattoo wasn't visible. And even though this tattoo is in police reports, there are pictures of it. That tattoo exists. And yet during that preliminary hearing, the district attorney allowed the court to place on the record the Daniel Flynn didn't have that tattoo.


So in the jury's mind, Chiara is the only one of the two defendants with a tattoo on her right thigh. But the defense presents her alibi very well. Again, she had signed in at eight a.m. again, Mark President ten, fifteen a.m. and 12, 15, and the murder was at eleven thirty. Her teacher, Rebecca Woodruff, gave testimony verifying her presence in class and presented six dated assignments.


The way that I taught class, I would teach and then I would give assignments. All of the assignments had to be completed during class time. For example, you would not be able to get a packet of assignments for me. If you had missed something from before. You'd actually have to be there every hour of the day to get each of the assignments. And here I had completed all six assignments that day, so it just would have been impossible for her if she had left and come back.


So this is where gang evidence plays such an important role in this trial, the gang evidence, which is put in evidence by a gang expert who's just a gang policeman who works the neighborhood, is really a way to get race into the courtroom. Gang evidence, race evidence, and the people who are the victims of this kind of evidence are always black and brown youth. It convinces the jury that the person sitting at the defendant's table is capable of anything.


Kiara Newsome gang member can commit murder and then go back and finish her civil rights assignment that afternoon without breaking a sweat. That is what gang evidence does to a trial. Now, in this case, gang evidence was appropriate for some of the people involved. Christian Henton, Bobby Johnson reinforced Donnell Flynn. We're all in the Cal Gang's database and all had what we call fi cards, validating that they were gang members. Kira Newsome had only one thing.


She had a boyfriend tattoo on her upper thigh, and it was a tattoo so high on her thigh that the only person who was going to see that tattoo was Marquel. That tattoo was identified as a gang tattoo by the gang expert at the trial. He said you could not have a tattoo on your thigh like that unless you were a fully paid up gang member, or you would be shot on sight on the streets of South L.A.. Now, that's a myth.


You don't walk around with an invisible boyfriend tattoo and other gang members are prowling the streets looking to waste you. But that was the myth that they pushed at that trial. And frankly, it is the myth that I think convicted killer innocent. So Shauntay Allen, who was shot in the torso, testified that he had gone to school with fear and knew her. He dispelled the IDs, saying that it was not her in the car at the shooting.


How the fuck could she get convicted in spite of this? Chris, you've got you've got to help us out here.


Kyra is convicted of the murder of Christian Hinton, but she's acquitted of the attempted murder of Shauntay Allen, even though clearly the woman who shot Christian Hinton is also the person who shoots at Shauntay Allen halfway down the block. That feels irrational, but I suspect it was the jury had a momentary crisis of conscience and wondered maybe if they got the wrong person. And so they thought they'd throw Kierra a bone, even though they convicted of a crime she never committed.


July 2003, Kyra, you've now been through almost everything a human being can go through and you're still just a kid. And now the jury goes out.


They called Daniel Flynn. They call it hurting out first. That was like not guilty, first degree murder, not guilty, second degree murder and all these not guilty, you know, and she's sitting in a courtroom and she's crying and she's happy and everything. And they're like they're not guilty of attempted murder and guilty first degree murder. And I'm like, what? And I'm in tears as she looks at me and say that's what snitches get. It works out with many wrongful convictions, person who actually committed the murder is still out on the street.


What's even stranger is the person who committed the murder is sitting next to here at the defendant's table. Donnell Flynn stays out, and years later, she's convicted of an execution style drug murder on the streets of Las Vegas and she's now doing 20 to life in Nevada state prison. And you could say that that poor guy in that alleyway might be alive today if justice were done at this trial, so curious as to six years to life and now the torture wasn't over by any stretch of the imagination.


When I had prison, not only did they have me as a Hoover member, but also the people that was already there had got where I was a snitch, you know. So not only am I this gang member now, supposedly, but I'm a snitch, too. When I got up there in my first few years, all I did was fight, fight, fight, fight, fight. And the only people that ever fought me was the Hoovers.


The blocks never fought me. They lost someone, but they knew the truth. I wasn't the best fighter, but I learned to become good at it because I did it so much for at least like three years straight. I had at least like two fights a day, if not more. But there were some correctional officers that looked out for you. There's one named Lieutenant Norman, who was one of the good guys. Is that right?


Yes, he's he's one of the good guys, you know. And Lieutenant Norman, he had me in his office and he told me, you won't tell me what's going on with you.


Now, mind you, the other lifers have already told him what was going on, the fact that I was innocent, they already had told him. But my whole perception of the law in the system, in police officers was to not talk to them about anything because it'll get twisted the wrong thing to happen. I was in fear of the justice system, you know, and he let me know that I can trust him. So I laid everything out to him and explained to him what was going on with me and what actually happened.


And he reassured me that he already knew. So as long as he was on the yard that I was on, I was OK. I shouldn't have to worry if he started shifting people over, moving them to different yards and different things to make sure that these gang members stayed away from me. That was good for like a few years. Up until the time when he moved further along up to Captain, he was no longer on the yards anymore.


Every so many years you have people coming in like, oh, yeah, that's the girl that's finished on Astro. And I'm like, are they serious? If I say something about this lady, wouldn't this lady be incarcerated right now? It was just crazy. So I just physically and mentally fought hard to prove to people aren't innocent. I'm innocent.


I'm innocent to the point where I just gave up one day and said, you know what, I'm going to stop doing it. And I decided to write letters I would write every day. And I wrote the Innocence Project the first time they told me they had too many people. And the day that I planned my own suicide, I get a paper from the Innocence Project saying that they accepted my case and that's the only reason why I decided to leave.


The California Innocence Project did something great. They recognized that since you were a juvenile at the time of the alleged incident, they could reach out to the juvenile innocence and fair sentences, including law school, also known as Jeffs. And Chris, that's when you got involved. What year did you get involved? And then how did things progressed from their winter? Twenty thirteen. Justin Brooks came up here to speak at Loyola Law School and he brought his file with him and we went out to dinner that night.


He handed me this file, this big read well full of random papers. And he said we kind of reached a dead end on this case. Can you put your students on this case? And we were a relatively new clinic. And I said, yeah, I'm I'll take this case on. And I just want to tell you how the GIPS clinic works. I mean, students do everything in the clinic. So when we got the case, we noticed that Sipi had had interviewed a lot of people from the school, but they hadn't been able to get to people in the neighborhood.


And so we thought, well, that's where we need to start our work.


So we went down to South L.A. and with the help of his mom, we started fanning out and talking to people in and around the neighborhood. And then we caught a lucky break. We were able to throw a documentary filmmaker who was making a movie about that neighborhood. We were able to get in touch with Ryan Foust. And Ryan simply said, well, you know, I know that it wasn't Kierra who did that.


I was under pressure from my family and from the police to identify somebody. When they walked in with the six pack, they had already circled his face. And so I knew that's what they wanted. So I simply initialed that photograph and that became part of my testimony. And once I had that testimony, I felt like I had to keep going into court and saying the same thing or I was going to get arrested and sent away for this bottle of vodka he had lifted from a local Albertsons.


I sent an investigator to talk to Joe Cook. Joe Cook didn't want to help because he'd been trying to avoid this case for I don't know how long. He said, I don't want to help anybody. I don't want to change my testimony. And then he says to my investigator, he said, But the one thing I remember is that woman who pulled her pant leg up at the preliminary hearing. That was the shooter. And I'm not even sure Joe knew that.


He was saying that was Daniel Flynn. And then we talked to somebody else who was in the neighborhood who said that Daniel Flynn had shown up at his house the day of the murder and had been looking for other people to help her do this thing. And then it said to this guy, there's going to be something going down. You better better lie low for a while. And sure enough, not long after that, the sirens started going off and that murder took place.


So we put together what I thought was a pretty compelling case, but we still had to deal with the requirements of habeas corpus and the incredibly steep hill you have to climb in order to prove that in superior court. And frankly, we were unable to prove it to the satisfaction of the Superior Court. They rejected the petition now, luckily in 2013. The California Innocence Project needed an extra person for their California 12 March, and someone had dropped off that, Biden thinks he was exonerated.


Wow. OK, and by the way, if you haven't seen the movie by that same name, I suggest you do watch it tonight. I mean, Brian is a great, great guy. And for those of you who don't know what the California 12 Innocence March was, Justin Brooks, Alissa Berkel and Mike Sam Magic of the California Innocence Project March get this all the way from San Diego to Sacramento. Seven hundred and twelve miles to deliver clemency petitions to Governor Brown's office for 12 clients, a.k.a. the California 12, all of whom had compelling evidence of actual innocence.


The march took something like 55 days, and it started at the end of April of 2013.


So in May 2013, they said, can we submit a clemency petition to the governor here and will you co-sign that petition? And I said, absolutely, we will do that. That was early in the Jerry Brown governorship. So towards the end of Jerry Brown's governorship, I got a call from a board of parole hearing investigator and she said, I want to talk to you about here Newsom's case. And so I sat down with my petition and the investigator sat down in Sacramento.


And for two hours we went through every piece of evidence there. And I made the case the Kierra Newsom was innocent. At the end of that, the investigator said, thank you very much. And that's the last I heard until on Christmas Eve. Christina Lindquist and the governor's office called me up and said, I've just talked to your client. Her sentence is being commuted to 20 years to life. She should be eligible for parole immediately.


I thought I was going to be sent directly home right away. I didn't know that I was going to have to go before the parole board, but I had to tell myself as a carrot, you always say whether through the boardroom or through the courtroom, you was going to get out of here. You can fight another day. Just do what you have to do. I'll do the court thing later. Is not justice all the way for me, but it's something.


And like I told them, the only thing that Kara Newsom is guilty of is dating a gang member. I feel so bad for the victim's family, they still don't have the justice that they deserve. OK, this is about them. I'll have my moment one day and I believe that that day is coming eventually.


So April 7th, 20, 20. Yes. You walked you walked out of prison, a free woman after serving nearly 19 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. You didn't know about. You had no knowledge of. And what did you do when you walked out of prison?


Well, the first thing I did is run into the arms of my fiancee. But when we got out the gate, Rebecca was right there and I was told that Hotan was not going to be there because of this pandemic. And when I seen him, even though it was a pandemic, you know, like I'm going to hug him anyway. I got to see my top two people outside of my family and I to, you know, my loved ones.


And then my crew was there, Laryssa, all the students, everybody was there. And it was just so exciting.


I mean, here it is now. And you're seven months pregnant, right? Yeah, that that's exciting, you know. So do you know if it's a girl or a boy? It's a boy. OK, do you have a name picked out?


I'm going to name him Champion. I've been through a lot as well. As you know, his father has a tremendous story, too. We both went to that school together, you know, so this baby deserved to be called champion. His baby been through a lot even even since. Yeah. Even since I've been out, this baby's still been through a lot because whatever I feel he feels and I'm still going through it out here, still trying to find work.


I have all these college degrees and this big feeling just keeps popping up, you know, but eventually things are going to change. I know something's going to happen for me.


What remains to be done for Kiara Newsome? How to how does this eventually get truly righted? And what can people do to help her and help you help others?


So Kira's is out of prison. She's free, but she's not exonerated, the next step for us, as you may have heard, we have a new D.A. in town here, George Gascon, and he is going to revamp the Conviction Integrity Unit, where I hope to take this case again. We will have a petition up on change, dawg. Guéra should get the justice she's been deserving for so long and should be able to walk around a woman without a conviction to her name, which has kept a lot of doors closed for her so far.


And it's it's not fair. She should be walking around without this conviction hanging around her neck. And so if people want to help, please look at the change dog petition and also support the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic so that we can help more kids who were convicted and sent to the California prison system, kids like Kierra.


So we will put a link in our bio to support Kiara and to support Jeffs as well.


And now we have what we call closing arguments. Closing arguments is the section of the show where once again, I thank our two extraordinary guests, Chris Hawthorne and Karen Newsome and Chris and Anchia. Here's how this works. This is the part of the show where I turn my microphone off, kick back, close my eyes and just listen to anything that you want to say. It's all yours for the close out. So, Chris Hawthorne, why don't you go first and then you can just hand the mic off to Cura and she could do the mic drop.


We started the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic in 2012. Because Los Angeles is the capital of juvenile sentencing. There are so many kids during the 1990s, during the early part of this century who got sent off to California prisons to serve really long sentences, some of them wrongfully convicted, all of them over sentenced. It is so important for us as a city and a county to live up to the ideals we believe Los Angeles stands for, to be the city that we say we are this big, beautiful, diverse city which values its citizens, values every citizen.


Chiara Newsome is just one of the most egregious examples. Of how unjustly children are treated in the criminal justice system here in Los Angeles and were for many, many years, I have a lot of faith that the new district attorney's office is going to change that. I'm hoping that we'll be able to continue the work we've been doing, and I'm so excited to be able to do it with Chiara Newsom free and at the side of all of our amazing students and staff who are going to keep doing this work as long as we can possibly do it.


First of all, I would like to thank each and every one of you guys for taking the time out to listen to my story. I am not the first that this will happen to. And I know that I'm not the last. This happened to.


And I also know that where I come from, there are many, many others. I was just incarcerated and I know at least 10 more me that's there that don't even have the opportunities that I have right now. I want for anyone that ever has to do jury duty and deal with cases.


That has to do with gangs and threats and violence and things like that to really, really pay attention to the evidence. Because one small mistake, this can happen to anyone. And I just want to say that I blame no one for this happening to me.


And I realize that everyone had a job to do, whether it was the judge, whether it was the D.A., whether it was the officers in due time, God would deal with everybody accordingly. I just want everybody to have a peaceful 20, 21 and enjoy themselves in each one, teach one, each one, reach one, and go out there and make a difference and a change of someone else's life because you never know who your touch.


Don't forget to give us a fantastic review. Wherever you get your podcasts, it really helps. And I'm a proud donor to the Innocence Project and I really hope you'll join me in supporting this very important cause and helping to prevent future wrongful convictions. Go to Innocence Project dialogue to learn how to donate and get involved. I'd like to thank our production team, Connor Hall and Kevin Ortiz. The music in the show is by three time Oscar nominated composer J.


Ralph. Be sure to follow us on Instagram at wrongful conviction and on Facebook at Wrongful Conviction podcast. Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava for Good podcast in association with Signal Company No. One.