The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of a California man who had to pay $20,000 to a former drug dealer after his ex-wife was charged with murder after allegedly shooting him in the back of the head in 2013.
The high court also ruled in his favor on another case, in which the California Supreme Court found that an ex-girlfriend of a former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy had a right to go to an Arizona prison to obtain his conviction, after he was exonerated after DNA evidence was used to convict him.
The decision was a victory for ex-cop and ex-jail inmate Joshua K. Hager, who had sought to have his convictions vacated and ordered by a California court to pay a total of $20.4 million to his ex, former deputy, and former friend.
“A court may have found that it would be in the public interest to pay the defendant a sum that would allow the defendant to go elsewhere,” the court said in a brief order.
Hager had argued that he should be allowed to go home because his ex had “made up the murder charge and that his only defense was the fact that she was afraid of retaliation.”
The court said that it could have found a different result if it had considered the law in question, and if the ex-spouse was in California at the time of the killing.
“In light of the circumstances, it is clear that the California Court of Appeal erred in concluding that California’s statutory scheme for the disposition of cases involving an ex and ex’s former girlfriend does not permit an ex’s ex-fiancee to go into the Arizona state prison to seek his conviction,” the ruling said.
“The California Supreme, therefore, did not err in finding that the ex’s girlfriend could have gone into Arizona to seek her ex-husband’s conviction.”
Hager was sentenced to life in prison without parole after being convicted in 2012 of first-degree murder and robbery in the shooting death of 25-year-old Michael Thomas.
A judge in Arizona ordered that Thomas’ body be exhumed to determine if he was the victim of a botched robbery and he would be returned to California.
The ex-woman filed a lawsuit against Hager in 2014, saying he had threatened her and threatened to shoot her in the head with a shotgun.
She alleged she had not killed Thomas because he was an acquaintance.
Hanger initially pleaded not guilty to the charges and said he had killed Thomas “to protect my family.”
He was eventually convicted in December, and he was sentenced in January to 35 years to life.