A Lake County man who spent 20 years behind bars for a crime of which he since has been exonerated will receive a state compensation check of $936,880 for wrongful conviction.
The California legislature this week approved the payment for Luther Jones, 72, and it was signed by the governor Friday, according to the office of Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg.
Jones’ son, Ko’Fawn Jones, cautioned the state still needs to cut the check. He expects it could arrive next week.
“It’s a blessing,” he said, but added “I’m not going to get excited until my dad has the check in hand.”
When Luther Jones was released from prison in February he was suffering from kidney and liver failure, diabetes and hepatitis C. He’s been hospitalized multiple times since his release and is currently in the hospital. Ko’Fawn said his father on Friday did not yet know the money has been approved.
Luther Jones was released from prison after the woman who had accused him of molesting her when she was 10 years old recanted her statement. The woman said her mother had told her to lie about Jones. Her mother and Jones were locked in a custody battle over her 2-year-old half-sister at the time.
A Lake County judge ordered Jones be freed within days of the woman recanting her testimony to the District Attorney’s Office. Jones had served 18 years of a 27-year sentence. He spent another two years in jail awaiting trial.
The Northern California Innocence Project and Lake County attorney Angela Carter helped Jones petition for speedy compensation. They were concerned he could die before the payment was received because it can take years for such requests to be granted.
Ko’Fawn Jones, who’s been his father’s primary caretaker since his prison release, plans to move them both out of Lake County as soon as the check arrives and his father is well enough.
He said his father needs to be closer to quality medical care. Currently, it can take as long as nine hours from their home near Kelseyville before his father can be hooked up to a dialysis machine when there’s an emergency.
The family already has found a home in Contra Costa County, Ko’Fawn said. He plans to hire a live-in nurse to take care of his father.
In addition, Ko’Fawn said the family likely will need privacy after word gets out about the check.
“I don’t want people knocking on my door,” he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or email@example.com. On Twitter @MendoReporter.