From: Amy Cornell, Public Information Officer   CONTACT PERSON:
David Boyd, Deputy District Attorney
(408) 792-2968   For release on November 30, 2007   NEW EVIDENCE IN 1998 ROBBERY LEADS TO GUILTY PLEA FOR MICHAEL HUTCHINSON   Michael Hutchinson pleaded guilty earlier this week to second degree robbery of a 7-Eleven store in Milpitas in 1998.  Hutchinson was originally convicted of the robbery in 1999 after a 7-Eleven clerk identified him as the man who came into the store wearing a mask. He then jumped over the counter, grabbed the store clerk by the arm and demanded cash. He took more than $200 from the register before fleeing. At that time, Hutchinson was sentenced to eleven years in prison. When he entered a guilty plea to a separate domestic violence charge, his sentence was increased by two years.   Hutchinson served nearly 8 years behind bars before he was released in 2006. He then challenged his conviction in state court on appeal and habeas, both of which were denied. Hutchinson’s new attorney filed a federal habeas petition, alleging that his client had not received adequate representation of counsel, since Hutchinson’s former attorney failed to investigate what appeared to be a height discrepancy in the 7-Eleven surveillance tape. The attorney asked for money to hire an expert who would be able to opine that the robber in the 7-Eleven surveillance tape was shorter than Hutchinson. The San Jose Mercury News, while working on the “Tainted Trials, Stolen Justice” series that examined the Santa Clara County justice system, paid for a forensic expert to examine this claim by Hutchinson’s attorney. The expert testified at a federal habeas hearing that Hutchinson was in fact taller than the robber in the video. In June 2006, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White reversed Hutchinson’s conviction, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the ruling. Hutchinson was released on bond in August 2006, pending a new trial.   During preparation for retrial, the District Attorney’s Office discovered new evidence from the 7-Eleven’s surveillance videotape. The tape shows Hutchinson inside the 7-Eleven with his young daughter four hours prior to the robbery. Audio from the tape helped the mother of the child, as well as a police officer who had grown up with Hutchinson, positively identify him. After comparing that surveillance videotape with the one showing the robbery, investigators determined there were no significant differences in voice, height, build, and clothing between Hutchinson in the earlier tape, and the robber in the later tape.   This week, Hutchinson admitted to Judge Ray Cunningham that he was entering his guilty plea because he was, in fact, guilty of the robbery, and for no other reason. He was sentenced to 8 years in prison, which he has already served. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will determine his parole term.   ###

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