INGLEWOOD (2UG) – The City of Inglewood is scheduled to reject a claim filed on behalf of a man wrongfully convicted of murder during the regular city council meeting scheduled for June 13.
Maurice Hastings was convicted for the abduction, sexual assault, and slaying of 30-year-old Roberta Wydermyer, and the attempted murder of Wydermyer’s husband, Billy Ray, and his friend George Pinson. He served 38 years in prison and was released in October 2022 after being declared factually innocent after DNA testing ruled him out and implicated Kenneth Packnett.
Wydermyer had made a late-night trip to a market in Inglewood, but she never returned home.
After Wydermyer failed to come home, her husband and Pinson went out looking for her, and they spotted her stolen vehicle being driven by the suspect. The assailant sped away, but the duo pursued him, authorities said. The suspect eventually fired shots toward the pursuing pair, with Billy Ray Wydermyer suffering a shrapnel wound.
Inglewood police, at the time, said her assailant stole her cash and jewelry, assaulted her, and then shot her in the head. Her body was then placed in the trunk of her car, which the assailant took.
Hastings was arrested months later. His initial trial ended with a hung jury, but he was convicted at his retrial. He had faced a potential death sentence, but jurors instead recommended that he be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Hastings conviction was vacated In October 2022.
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon received a claim of innocence in 2021 from the Los Angeles Innocence Project at California State University Los Angeles who worked “tirelessly” on his behalf.
“Thanks to the DNA testing completed, Mr. Hastings’ DNA profile was excluded and someone else was determined to have been the assailant in this case,” the district attorney said. “In this particular case, the assailant went on to continue to harm other victims before he was arrested and prosecuted.”
Hastings was declared factually innocent by Judge William C. Ryan on March 1.
According to the June 16 city council meeting agenda, Hastings claim is a result of the City’s “contribution to wrongful prosecution and prolonged detention on October 2, 1984”.
Hastings claim is a precursor to a lawsuit, which could potentially reach millions of dollars.
The city is self-insured which would cover the first $2 million of any amount awarded, should Hastings claim, and subsequent lawsuit, be successful.
City News Service contributed to this report.