By Charlotte Alter
November 24, 2014

A California man will leave prison Monday after 36 year behind bars, after new DNA evidence proved his innocence.

Michael Hanline, 68, will be released after DNA from the crime scene failed to match Hanline’s, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 1980, Hanline was convicted of the first-degree murder of J.T. McGarry, also known as Mike Mathers, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Police reports that cast doubt on the testimony of Hanline’s then-girlfriend Mary Bischoff were not disclosed to defense attorneys at the time, even though they could have been used to discredit Bischoff or indicate that Hanline may have been framed.

Bischoff’s testimony was instrumental in convicting Hanline– she testified that McGarry owed her money, that there was a contract out on his life, and that Hanline said he would “blow his brains out.” She also said she saw Hanline leaving the house with a gun and come back muddy, even though Hanline says he was home that night.

Bischoff was smoking PCP-laced pot and using cocaine on the night in question, and she was also on drugs at the time she gave her testimony, leading the judge to adjourn court.

Hanline will be released from prison, but will have to wear a GPS ankle monitor. He is also expected to appear back in court in February for a pretrial hearing, because prosecutors have not yet decided whether to re-try him.

“It’s been a roller coaster,” Hanline’s wife Sandee Hanline said. “I prayed that this day would come.”

[Los Angeles Times]

Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com.

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