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Judge Eases Restrictions on Former White Supremacist Released from Prison PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fred Shuster   
Thursday, 11 July 2013 08:43

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A federal judge has eased the release restrictions on a San Fernando Valley man who was set free in March after spending nearly 14 years in prison for a crime he denies committing. Daniel Larsen, 46, was convicted in 1999 of carrying a concealed knife and was sent to prison as a three-striker.

Attorneys for California Innocence Project, however, found witnesses who said they saw a different man throwing away the dagger in question.

After a lengthy battle with the state and federal courts, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Larsen released pending a U.S. Supreme Court decision on a technical matter that could impact the defendant's freedom.

Alex Simpson, legal director for the California Innocence Project, told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol that the decisions favoring his client are not precedent setting.

"This is unlikely," Simpson said. "Daniel Larsen has been released while the Attorney General is appealing his reversal in federal court. The restrictions placed on him have to do with this specific release situation. "His restrictions were eased by a federal judge after four months of positive compliance with his release terms. This is not a Prop 36 case."

U.S. Magistrate Suzanne H. Segal, under strict conditions, released Larsen four months ago, to the wife he met and married last year while he was in state prison in Lancaster serving a 27 years-to-life sentence.

Segal agreed to modify those restrictions, lifting home incarceration requirements and allowing Larsen to remain free under electronic monitoring. He now must provide advance notice of his plans to leave home and give federal monitors detailed information about whom he wishes to visit.

"I just want to see how you do in this phase," Segal said, reminding the onetime member of the white supremacist Nazi Low Riders gang to avoid friends who may be a bad influence. "I would still not want him to have the total freedom to visit the homes of individuals who may not be helpful to him," the magistrate judge said.

Deputy state Attorney General Stephanie C. Brenan offered no opposition.

Larsen apologized to the court for a failed urine test around the time of his release from prison. "I get it," Larsen said. "I understand what's going on. My adjustment period has been difficult."

Simpson said Larsen's past associations should not have hindered the judge's decision. "We were not concerned because the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had ordered him released previously," he said.

"Since he has, since his release, been compliant with pretrial services, the only question this week was whether the court would keep the same conditions he was on or release him entirely."

Larsen was convicted in 1999 of carrying a concealed knife – a third strike for the convicted burglar. Insisting he was innocent, the Innocence Project took up his case and found witnesses – including a former police chief -- who said they saw another man throw away the knife.

In 2010, a federal judge overturned the conviction and said Larsen's constitutional rights had been violated because his original attorney was incompetent.

Despite that ruling, Larsen still wasn't released. California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris appealed the federal judge's decision based on the technicality that Larsen's current lawyers waited too long to file papers and missed a deadline.

The Innocence Project filed an appeal under habeas corpus that eventually reached the appellate court, which found Larsen to be "actually innocent," a legal term that allows him to be released from prison while his case works its way through the courts.

"Does innocence trump procedural delay?" is how Innocence Project co-director Jan Stiglitz summed up the legal question that recently came before the Supreme Court in McQuiggin v. Perkins.

After heated debate, the majority concluded that compelling evidence of innocence could overcome an otherwise untimely petition, a decision that Larsen's defense said bodes well for their client.

Larsen's appeal is scheduled to be argued July 30 before the appeals panel in Pasadena.

Mike Terry contributed to this report.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 July 2013 08:44