LAS VEGAS (FOX5) FOX5 STAFF| Posted on Jul 15, 2020
— A Las Vegas man was granted a certificate of his innocence and $2.25 million after being wrongly convicted of murder.
According to a news release, DeMarlo Berry was granted a Certificate of Innocence and awarded $2.25 million in statutory damages for the more than 22-year prison term he served following his wrongful incarceration.
Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Cristina D. Silva entered stipulated orders on July 8, which AG Ford agreed to grant, the release said. The orders have been scheduled for final approval at the upcoming Board of Examiners meeting on Aug. 11.
“The money means a lot to someone, but I don’t think you can put a price on the time being taken away from somebody. I mean he put twenty years of his life into some where I don’t think anybody would want to be,” said
Kristina Wildeveld. “I think DeMarlo would rather trade the money for getting his life back. If he could turn back time he would much rather have his life than the money.”
According to the release, in 1995, Berry was convicted by the State of Nevada in Clark County for first-degree murder, robbery and burglary in connection with the alleged robbery and burglary of a Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Las Vegas.
Berry was sentenced to life in prison, the release said. A Las Vegas man named Steven Jackson later confessed to committing the crimes.
The Conviction Integrity Unity of the Clark County District Attorney’s Office investigated and confirmed Jackson’s confession, the release said. The State then vacated and dismissed the charges against Berry, releasing him from prison in 2017, authorities said.
“I was so inspired by DeMarlo Berry during the 2019 Legislative Session when he used his personal experience to advocate for change,” said AG Ford. “His story helped codify Assembly Bill 267 into law, creating a lasting difference in the lives of unjustly incarcerated individuals in Nevada. As your attorney general, the pursuit of justice is paramount to the mission of my office, and I’m encouraged that after so many years, Mr. Berry has been declared an innocent man and will receive compensation for the years of freedom he lost. I couldn’t be prouder of the attorneys in my office who worked on this case. As I told them, ‘Our job is justice, and you have done a
great job of delivering it.’”
According to the release, in 2019, the Nevada Legislature adopted Assembly Bill 267 to compensate persons who have been wrongfully incarcerated if they can prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that they did not commit the crime for which they were convicted, were not an accomplice, and did not otherwise cause their own conviction. Additional costs,
including reasonable attorney fees, educational expenses, counseling services and certain other reimbursements are also permitted, the release notes.
During the 2019 Legislative Session, Berry testified in favor of Assembly Bill 267 and personally discussed the bill with AG Ford during the Session.
Berry is the first person in Nevada to receive the Certificate of Innocence under this new statute.
“Very emotional hearings in both the assembly and the senate where DeMarlo actually came up to the session and told his story about what it was like to be wrongfully incarcerated for almost twenty years in the case,” said Assemblyman Steve Yeager who co-authored the new law. “He
didn’t want the bill for himself, he wanted it for other people that were in his circumstance so I would say it was one of the most moving legislative hearings.”