VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - An Oxnard man who claims he was wrongfully convicted of attempted murder more than a decade ago appeared in court on Monday for a life-changing ruling.
The day ended in tears as 32-year-old Ignacio Ixta Jr. learned he was being released from jail.
Ixta was convicted by a jury trial in 2010 for attempted murder and related felonies in connection to a December 2009 shooting.
However in 2020, the Ventura County District Attorney's Conviction Integrity Unit learned that four search warrants involving one of the prosecution’s key witnesses had not been provided to their office with Ixta’s case materials.
This raised questions about the credibility of the prosecution's key witness, thus entitling Ixta to a conviction reversal.
The news brought Ixta Junior to tears. After 11 years behind bars, he was finally allowed to return home.
The DA's Office explained that, based on the current state of the evidence, they could not prove Ixta's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt through a second trial.
Additionally, the search warrant evidence undermined the government’s case and exposed potential criminal conduct by a key prosecution witness.
Among those waiting for Ixta was his 14-year-old son Andrew who was only three years old when his dad went to prison.
“I feel happy. I have been waiting for this my whole entire life," said Andrew. "I have never seen him without his jail clothes on. I just want to see him with real clothes on and I want him to be here with me right now."
“I can finally say that my baby is coming home," cheered Andrew's mother Alma Ixta. “It broke my heart because it has been 11 years, three months and three weeks of this injustice, and I don’t want this to happen to anyone else and so we need to change this system.”
Ixta's attorney Philip Dunn said, "You know this isn’t suppose to happen, but you have to realize you’re fortunate because we got a new district attorney in this county that really cares about justice.”
Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko said he spoke with Oxnard Police Chief Jason Benites to address systemic changes to help ensure that information within the possession of the police department is provided to both the prosecution and defense.
"We are confident that changes in the record management system of the agency, combined with greater information sharing among the different law enforcement entities, will help to address the issue," Nasarenko said.