A Lynwood man who spent 20 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of murder has announced his campaign to represent California's 51st Assembly District.
Francisco "Franky" Carrillo said in a statement Thursday that he aims to fill the seat formerly occupied by Jimmy Gomez, who was elected to Congress Tuesday. California Governor Jerry Brown has yet to set a date for the special election, NBC4's media partner KPCC reports.
"I’m running because I believe that every family deserves an advocate who is dedicated to helping them triumph over the challenges and unfairness in their lives," Carrillo told KPCC reporter Matt Bloom. "I believe I will serve as a beacon of hope and optimism, but even more importantly, I will serve as a fighter for fairness and justice."
Carrillo's decision to run for office comes nearly a year after receiving a $10.1 million payout from L.A. County for his wrongful conviction for the 1991 drive-by shooting of Donald Sarpy.
In 2011, Carillo's conviction for Sarpy's murder was reversed by a judge after he had served 20 years in state prison, according to Carrillo's spokesperson Roy Behr.
Behr added that after a five-year investigation, witnesses of the 1991 murder admitted that they had been coerced to falsely accuse Carrillo.
After the new evidence was presented in court, a judge dismissed all charges against Carrillo and released him at the request of the prosecutors, Behr said.
Carrillo was initially arrested at the young age of 16 and later convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the Lynwood murder.
While incarcerated, Carrillo taught himself law and maintained his innocence, Behr said.
According to Carrillo's statement, after coming home, he earned a college degree, started a family and became an advocate for justice and equal opportunity.
"Because of my experience, I am uniquely positioned to represent families who are struggling to earn a living, find good schools for their children, and maintain faith in the face of adversity," Carrillo told Bloom. "I know firsthand what it means to face hardship, and how important it is to know you have an advocate in your corner.”