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Riverside County pays $11 million to Horace Roberts: The Black Man who was Wrongly Convicted in the 1998 California Murder Case

On April 14th 1998, Horace’s life came to a standstill after he was arrested and wrongly charged with murdering his 32-year-old girlfriend, Terry Cheek. The whole ordeal started when Terry failed to show up at work where she was working with Horace.

She was later found strangled to death and her body abandoned in the rocks on the shore of Corona Lake. The first person to be suspected of her murder was Horace whom they were having an affair. It took the jury three trials to finally convict Horace. He was convicted on the grounds of inconsistent statements, his watch being found next to the victim’s body and his truck being near the crime scene. 

Horace was convicted of second degree murder during his third trial in July 1999. He was then sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison. The young Horace would then end up spending 20 years in prison before his exoneration through DNA evidence in 2018. 

In 2019, Horace received $1,044,820 as compensation for the wrongful conviction. He also filed a lawsuit against Riverside County and its sheriff’s department for the mishandling of his case leading to the wrongful conviction. 

Following this lawsuit the Riverside County awarded Horace an $11 million settlement on Tuesday. Googie Harris and Joaquin Leal, who is the husband and nephew of the victim, have since been arrested after DNA evidence inclined them to the murder of Terry.  

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