A Nevada man who insisted for 23 years that he didn’t kill a fast-food restaurant manager in Las Vegas is being freed from prison following a confession by a man imprisoned in California, authorities said Thursday.
DeMarlo Berry, now 42, is due for release Friday after a state court judge in Las Vegas dismissed his murder conviction in the April 1994 slaying of Charles Burkes and his 1995 sentence to life in prison without parole.
“It’s a good day for justice,” said John Wendland, a lawyer in Las Vegas who represented Berry. “He never gave up on proving himself innocent.”
Wendland, who donated his time with the Rocky Mountain Innocence Project and attorneys in Salt Lake City, said Berry’s break came when Steven Jackson confessed to the crime.
Jackson, 45, is serving life without parole in at California’s Wasco State Prison California for his conviction in a separate murder in 1996.
Berry, then 18, saw Jackson in the Carl’s Jr. restaurant where manager Charles Burkes was shot and killed. But he initially refused to identify the man he knew as a Southern California gang member.
Later, Berry named Jackson in the slaying.
Berry’s case was one of the first reviewed by a unit that Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson created last year to take a look at cases when new evidence comes to light.
Wolfson said Jackson also provided details about the crime that only the shooter would know.
Wendland declined to speak on Berry’s behalf, and said he expected his client would speak publicly following his release.