King County man’s conviction overturned after 10 years in prison

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SEATTLE — A King County man who spent 10 years in prison was released Friday after local law school students helped persuade King County prosecutors to reevaluate the man’s conviction.

According to the Innocence Project Northwest’s Facebook page, Brandon Olebar walked out of prison Friday after doubt grew surrounding his conviction for an armed robbery in 2003. Olebar was a client of the Innocence Project,  a nation-wide network of lawyers and advocates that work to free the wrongly convicted.

10yearOlebar was found guilty in 2003 of breaking into a home, pistol-whipping a man and stuffing him into a closet, the Seattle Times reported. The victim said as many eight attackers beat him in the incident, and the victim fingered Olebar as one of those responsible in a lineup days after the event. Olebar was convicted in a King County court based on the eyewitness testimony, despite lack of DNA evidence and a solid alibi.

Two law students — Nikki Carsley and Kathleen Klineall — decided to take up Olebar’s case after he claimed innocence. Carsley and Klineall tracked down the other convicted assailants, who told the two students that Olebar was not involved in the crime. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg moved to vacate Olebar’s conviction following the new testimony.

According to the innocence project, as much as 75 percent of wrongful convictions come through eyewitness misidentification.

Olebar told the Seattle Times he was thankful for all those who believed in his innocence during his time behind bars, and said the feeling of finally being released was “unreal.”

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