Corona, CA – Today, on the one-year anniversary of her exoneration, Kimberly Long filed a constitutional civil rights lawsuit in federal court against the City of Corona and several Corona Police Officers who framed her for a murder she did not commit.
Ms. Long was wrongly arrested, prosecuted, and convicted of the 2003 murder of Oswaldo Conde. She spent over seven years imprisoned as a result, fighting for her freedom, until the Supreme Court of California exonerated her last year.
In the early hours of October 6, 2003, Ms. Long returned to the house she shared with Conde, her life partner, after hanging out with friends. She discovered Conde dead on their couch with severe injuries to his head. The scene of the crime was gruesome. There was blood on every wall of the living room in a 360-degree radius. Ms. Long immediately called 911 for help.
When Corona police arrived at the scene, there was no blood on Long or the clothes that she was wearing. There was nothing to suggest she had cleaned up herself or the house. Corona police searched the area carefully but did not find the murder weapon, any bloody clothing, or any other physical evidence tying Long to the crime. In fact, no physical evidence ever connected Ms. Long to Conde’s murder.
In addition, Corona police spoke to neighbors who heard noises during the night, but no one identified Ms. Long as the perpetrator or even a suspect. Instead, witnesses informed officers of an alternative suspect with a motive.
Nonetheless, Corona police focused exclusively on Ms. Long and conducted an unconstitutional investigation to secure her arrest, prosecution, and conviction. The officers fabricated fake evidence and suppressed evidence showing that Ms. Long could not have committed the crime. They suppressed police reports detailing their interactions with the key alternative suspect. And they manipulated and fed information to witnesses to bolster their case against Ms. Long.
Ms. Long’s first criminal trial ended in a mistrial, with most of the jurors believing that Ms. Long was innocent of the crime. Ms. Long was convicted of murder at a second trial, and she was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
At the time of her arrest, Ms. Long was a 27-year-old mother to two young children, a loving daughter, and a nurse. Her daughter was 10 years old, and her son only 5 years old. Her entire life was turned upside down without any warning. Her formative adult years were consumed by the grief of losing Conde and the horror of her wrongful imprisonment.
Ms. Long and her family never gave up on clearing her name and winning her freedom. They were able to get the attention of the California Innocence Project, who took up her case in 2010. The California Innocence Project spent years investigating Kim’s case, reexamining the evidence, and advocating for Ms. Long’s innocence and release from prison. Ms. Long was able to show that she had conclusive proof of her innocence, including evidence that Conde died long before the time she arrived at the scene and the presence of unknown male DNA at the crime scene. Finally, after she had spent more than a decade fighting her wrongful conviction, the Supreme Court of California vacated Ms. Long’s conviction on November 30, 2020.
“There was never any credible evidence to believe that Kim had anything to do with the murder of Oswaldo Conde,” said Ruth Brown of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, one of Long’s attorneys. “Rather than following the truth and conducting a thorough and responsible investigation, the Corona police officers chose to frame Long and prosecute her for a crime she did not commit.”
Notably, throughout the process, state and federal courts have questioned the propriety of Long’s trial and conviction. The trial judge himself said he would not have found Long guilty of the crime. Ninth Circuit Judge Paul Watford said, “I have grave doubts whether the State has convicted the right person in this case.” Long v. Johnson, 736 F.3d 891, 897 (9th Cir. 2013) (Watford, J., concurring).
“The Corona police in charge of this investigation were supposed to help Kim during one of the worst moments in her life. They were supposed to investigate the crime and apprehend the person who murdered Oswaldo Conde. Instead, they followed their own agenda and sent her to prison for a crime she did not commit,” said Makeba Rutahindurwa, another of Long’s attorneys. “While no lawsuit can ever make up for everything that Kim lost, we hope that it will finally bring an end to this terrible chapter and allow her to move forward with her life.”
In addition to Ms. Brown and Ms. Rutahindurwa, Kimberly Long is also represented by Jon Loevy, Steve Art, and Megan Pierce of Loevy & Loevy, and Jan Stiglitz of the Law Office of Jan Stiglitz. Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms and has won more multi-million-dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country. A copy of the suit, Kimberly Long v. Thomas Weeks, et. al., Case No. 5:21-cv-02008, can be found here.