SOURCE: King & Spalding

King & Spalding

September 12, 2013 16:25 ET

King & Spalding Secures Release of Wrongfully Convicted Inmate

Pro Bono Client Served 12 Years for Crime He Did Not Commit

ATLANTA, GA--(Marketwired - Sep 12, 2013) - King & Spalding announced that it has secured the release of pro bono client David Peralta, who had served 12 years of a life sentence for a murder he did not commit. The DeKalb district attorney this morning dropped all charges against Peralta, who is to be released today.

Peralta was convicted in 2001 for a drive-by shooting that killed victim Rebecca Moore and was sentenced to life in prison. King & Spalding attorneys have been representing Peralta pro bono for over three years to obtain a new trial and his release. The DeKalb County Superior Court on April 22 granted Peralta's motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence and vacated the conviction, whereupon the DeKalb district attorney determined that the new evidence shows Peralta was not involved in the murder. The DeKalb DA dropped the charges on Sept. 12 at a hearing before Judge Daniel M. Coursey, Jr.

Peralta's 2001 murder conviction rested largely on testimony that he had been seen arguing with the victim, Rebecca Moore, hours before the shooting and on the testimony of two prison inmates who claimed he had confessed to the murder. One of those inmates later recanted his testimony, and the other asserted his Fifth Amendment right not to testify in subsequent proceedings. At trial, there was no eye-witness testimony identifying Peralta as the shooter, nor was there any physical evidence connecting him to the crime. Despite this, a jury found him guilty.

In 2006, a joint task force of the FBI, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, local police and others, while conducting an investigation into Atlanta-area gang activity, uncovered evidence including grand jury testimony and witness interviews that four members of the Surenos-13 gang committed the drive-by shooting that killed Moore. King & Spalding lawyers took on Peralta's case, and Atlanta business litigation associate Tully Blalock and former associate Suzanne Williams were able to obtain affidavits from two of the gang members who were in the car with the shooter. Both gang members swore that they were witnesses to the shooting and that Peralta was not involved or present at the shooting. In addition, police photographs of the gang members' car taken during an unrelated arrest several days after the shooting matched the description of the shooter's car.

The DeKalb district attorney's office refused to act on the new evidence and stood by Peralta's conviction. In February 2011, Peralta filed a motion in the DeKalb County Superior Court for a new trial based on the newly discovered evidence. In August 2011, Tully Blalock argued the motion for new trial, and the court issued its order on April 22 granting a new trial and stating its opinion that "a different verdict would be highly probable" in light of the new evidence. 

The Atlanta-based King & Spalding legal team working on behalf of Peralta also included retired partner Bill Hoffmann, global transactions counsel Angus McFadden, former tort and environmental litigation associate Valentin Leppert and senior paralegal Kathleen Lindley.

"The firm is proud of the attorneys who fought a long hard battle to obtain justice for David," said Josh Toll, King & Spalding's pro bono counsel. "King & Spalding's commitment to the community is truly meaningful when our resources and expertise are employed assist those most in need."

About King & Spalding
Celebrating more than 125 years of service, King & Spalding is an international law firm that represents a broad array of clients, including half of the Fortune Global 100, with 800 lawyers in 17 offices in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The firm has handled matters in over 160 countries on six continents and is consistently recognized for the results it obtains, uncompromising commitment to quality and dedication to understanding the business and culture of its clients. More information is available at www.kslaw.com.