Ronald Ross has been incarcerated at Solana State Prison since 2006, apparently for a crime he did not commit. News reports at The Oakland Tribune claim that Ross would be freed from prison this week after it was discovered that several errors were made in the legal process, and that evidence exists to prove his innocence.
Ross was accused of attempted murder and assault with a firearm for a crime that took place in West Oakland in April of 2006. Renardo Williams answered a knock on his front door and was shot in the ribs. Later Williams would say that the shooting was in connection with a teen who lived in the neighborhood, who Williams had been in an argument with. The teen’s name was Steven Embrey Jr.; his mother, according to Williams, allegedly threatened him saying that she would get “her man” to take care of the situation.
Police were told by Williams following the shooting that Embrey had shown up at his door along with Embrey Sr. and another man, and that he believed the one who did the shooting was Embrey’s father, Steven Embrey Sr. However, Embrey Sr. was never investigated by the lead detective on the case, Oakland police Sgt. Steven Lovell, according to news reports. Instead, detectives scoured through pictures in a criminal database consisting of men who lived next to Williams’ home in an apartment building. Ross’ picture was in that database due to a previous minor drug offense. His mother had lived in the apartment building 10 years prior to the shooting, so Ross was linked to the building although it was clearly a weak link.
Sgt. Lovell then compiled a photo lineup consisting of Ross and five other men before showing it to Williams, who was hospitalized due to his injuries and receiving a morphine drip. Ultimately, Williams identified a different man in the photo lineup before Lovell urged him to look a second time. Williams, when asked if Ross was the shooter, answered yes out of fear of identifying the real shooter. Ross knew he was innocent, but was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison mostly due to an ineffective defense and a hastily performed investigation.
A San Francisco law firm and Santa Clara University Law School’s Northern California Innocence Project law students revealed the numerous errors made in the case, leading to Ross’ release from prison. During the project’s investigation, Embrey Jr. admitted that his father was the one who shot Williams; additionally, Embrey Sr., who had since been incarcerated, testified from prison that Ross was not present at the shooting, and that the crime was committed by another man.
As seasoned Oakland murder defense lawyers, we know that there are many innocent people who sit behind bars, convicted of crimes they did not commit. It is very sad and unfortunate that an innocent man has been in prison for six years, but thankfully his name has been cleared.
If you have been charged with attempted murder or any violent crime, do not hesitate before contacting a capable and aggressive Oakland criminal defense attorney.