SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A San Diego man convicted of murder will be a free man, decades before his scheduled release.
Donnell Fulcher’s conviction for a Barrio Logan murder in 2006 was overturned due to changes in DNA standards, said Deputy District Attorney Hector Jimenez.
On Tuesday, Fulcher pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm rather than go through a third trial. The judge sentenced Fulcher to 14 years, but he received credit for time he already served.
Because of that, Fulcher will be released from custody tonight or tomorrow. This result comes after the San Diego County District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit took a second look at cases involving DNA mixtures, meaning more than one DNA source is found in a sample. Fulcher’s case relied heavily on this type of evidence.
The top forensic science group that analyzes DNA released guidelines that are now more conservative, which affected Fulcher’s case. Earlier this year, the District Attorney’s office agreed to give Fulcher a new trial.
“We still believe that we have the right guy, but we lost confidence in the conviction so we wanted to give the defendant a chance to have a new trial if he wanted. He chose to plead guilty instead, so at the end of the day, I believe justice was done,” Jimenez said. Fulcher has always maintained his innocence.
“I don’t think you can put any limit on the happiness that going free can have for someone who’s serving a life sentence. He is very, very happy. His family is very happy. This is really a joyous moment for all of them,” said Fulcher’s defense attorney Knut Johnson.
This would have been Fulcher’s third trial. His first trial ended in a mistrial.