Lake Co. man to receive $936,880 for serving 23 years in prison for crime he didn't commit

70-year-old Luther Jones is frail, sick and relies on his son for almost everything, but Jones is also home living with his grown son after serving 20 years for a crime he didn't commit.

"It's way better than being in," Jones said about being out of custody, But how much is 20 years of a man's life worth?

The state Victim Compensation Board on Thursday is expected to approve a payment to Jones of $936,880. That would be the highest wrongful conviction payment ever in California.

But Jones says the taxpayers shouldn't be the ones picking up the tab.

"I'd rather see the $900,000 come out of the judge's pockets. Don't misunderstand me, the judge's pocket," said Jones.

Jones was convicted in Lake County in 1998 of molesting a 10-year-old girl. She is the daughter of his then girlfriend.

The little girl's testimony led to the conviction, but that girl is now an adult. She recently told authorities her mother forced her to falsely accuse Jones because the couple had been embroiled in a bitter child custody battle involving another child.

Jones' son said he never believed the testimony in the first place.
"It's not something my father would think of doing," said Ko'Fawn Jones.

His faith in his father was rewarded,
"It's great having him back. I never thought I would see him again," he said.

The current district attorney has only been in office about five years. But he says if he had been in charge back then, he doubts he ever would have prosecuted Jones.

"The father obtained custody. Just a few days later the child alleged the molestation. That would make it suspect. Very much so,” said Lake County District Attorney Don Anderson.

The D.A. is investigating whether the mother should face perjury-related charges.
For Jones, his homecoming has been anything but easy.
After doing time at San Quentin and number of other state penitentiaries, Jones was released with a host of medical problems that include Hepatitis C, and liver and kidney failure.
His son has had to quit his job to care for him. He says he received almost no information from the prison medical staff.

"They didn't tell me the last time he took his meds. The next time he is supposed to take his meds. How he takes his meds, none of that stuff," said Ko'Fawn

Jones says he appreciates how is family has embraced him.
He says he doesn't want the money from his injustice for himself, but for his six children and 10 grandchildren.

“Can it still be a happy life for you?” we asked Jones.

"Not really happy. But more so enjoyable," he replied.

The California legislature and Governor Jerry Brown must still approve the compensation payment.