City of Simi Valley Reaches $21-Million Settlement With Craig Coley
The City of Simi Valley has reached a $21-million settlement with Mr. Craig Coley. Mr. Coley was convicted of the 1978 murder of Rhonda Wicht and her 4-year-old son Donald.
The tireless advocacy by those who believed he was innocent, and the Simi Valley Police Department’s initiative to reopen the case, led to the discovery of DNA evidence, which ultimately led to the determination that Mr. Coley was factually innocent and he was later pardoned by Governor Brown.
Mr. Coley’s 39-years was the longest prison term overturned in California. Following his release, he was awarded the largest payout ever from the Victim’s Compensation Government Claim Board which said it “unequivocally accepts that Coley is actually innocent” of the murders (Los Angeles Times, February 15th 2018).
The City believes reaching this settlement will mitigate the long and costly process of unnecessary litigation. City Manager Eric Levitt stated, “While no amount of money can make up for what happened to Mr. Coley, settling this case is the right thing to do for Mr. Coley and our community. The monetary cost of going to trial would be astronomical and it would be irresponsible for us to move forward in that direction.”
Of the $21-million, the City will pay approximately $4.9 million with the remainder to be made up by other sources including insurance.