One day you're behind bars, insisting that you didn't do it, and the next you're a millionaire. That's what happened to wrongly imprisoned Kash Register (that is his real name). Recently, the Los Angeles City Council agreed to settle a lawsuit from Mr. Register which alleged that dishonest LAPD detectives trumped up false evidence that led to his wrongful murder conviction 37 years ago. Register spent more than three decades behind bars. The amount of the settlement in this case is a staggering $16.7 million.
Kash Delano Register won his freedom in 2013, after a group attorneys and students from Loyola Law School shed light on the dubious testimony of a key prosecution witness. Register's award is the largest individual settlement in Los Angeles' history.
Register maintained his innocence throughout the 34 years he spent in jail after being convicted of armed robbery and murder in 1979. The case against Register was based on the testimony of an eyewitness. No murder weapon was ever found and none of the fingerprints at the crime scene in West Los Angeles matched those of Register. A speck of blood at the scene matched the blood type of both Register and the murdered victim, Jack Sasson.
Register had an alibi at the time of the murder: he claimed to be with his girlfriend.
The key witness for the prosecution in Register's case was Brenda Anderson. She told police she heard gunshots and saw Register running away from the scene. Anderson picked Register out of a photo lineup.
Anderson didn't just pick Register out of a photo lineup – she picked him out only after police threatened to prosecute her for credit card fraud and theft. The police told Anderson that they'd drop those charges if she followed their instructions and identified someone from the lineup.
Anderson's sister, Sheila Vanderkam, tried to tell a detective that her sister had lied about seeing Register at the scene of the crime. However, the detective put a finger to his lips, indicating that Vanderkam should keep quiet. Sharon Anderson, Brenda's other sister, also told police they had the wrong man. She was ignored.
Decades later, Vanderkam, still bothered by the case, typed Register's name into the California Department of Corrections website and discovered that he was still in jail. This prompted her to find Register's attorney, who launched a new investigation into his case.
Register was freed in November of 2013. He is now 55 years old. He missed the birth of his daughter and two grandchildren, during the more than three decades he was in prison. Since his release, he has been working in the warehouse of a large department store to support his family. The $16.7 million will come in handy.
I don't know about you, but if I were Register, I'd be out buying houses for every member of my family. Of course, he lives in Los Angeles, where a 1,200 square foot fixer upper runs $1 million or more, so maybe that's not a great idea…