Kiera Newsome

County of Conviction:

Convicted of:





case details

Kiera Newsome was wrongfully accused and convicted of a shooting in 2001. One of the contributing factors of her wrongful conviction was a flawed eyewitness identification. As it turns out, Kiera Newsome was at school all day and could not have committed the crime.

On April 16, 2001, at about 11:30 in the morning, a car carrying three young African-American women stopped near a group of men outside a house on 1435 West 113th Street. One of the women got out of the car and went up to the house, but nobody answered the door. She then approached the men and asked if they knew someone named “Nakia.” They said they did not. After a short conversation, she returned to the car but suddenly turned around and shot at the men with a handgun.  One of the shots hit and killed Christian Henton. The women quickly drove away, and as they did, someone from the car shot at another man named Shawntaye Allen, grazing his torso. The shooter was described as having a “lazy eye” and wearing all red clothes, including a tube top, shorts, and a visor. She also had a tattoo on her upper right thigh.

At the same time, Kiera Newsome was attending classes at Crenshaw SEA Charter School, which was located 13 miles away from where the shooting took place. The school had strict rules, with uniforms, small classes, and teachers supervising students all the time. Students had to sign in and out of the school, and their attendance was checked multiple times a day, including during lunch. They were not allowed to leave the school without permission.

Regardless of having a strong alibi, a jury found Kiera Newsome guilty of first-degree murder with a firearm enhancement in July 2003. Her co-defendant, Dawnyell Flynn, who was accused of driving the vehicle, was cleared of all charges. The prosecution’s case relied on the accounts of witnesses who were present during the shooting. It should be noted, that one of these witnesses even pointed to someone else entirely in a photo lineup, not Kiera. Additionally, it was pointed out that the shooter was described as having a “lazy eye,” which Kiera does not have.

During the trial, Kiera’s defense presented evidence showing she was in all of her classes at the SEA Charter School on the day of the murder. Her teacher testified, confirming Kiera was in class, and there were assignments dated from that morning. However, the prosecution argued differently. They suggested that even though Kiera signed into class, she could have sneaked out the back gate of the school, changed her clothes during the 13-mile drive to the crime scene from her school uniform to the all-red outfit the shooter wore, committed the crime, changed clothes again on the drive back to school, and then showed up in the classroom in time for the lunch headcount at noon.

TIC attorneys, while working at the California Innocence Project, looked into Kiera’s case and found witnesses who said she was not the one who shot the gun. They discovered evidence showing Kiera was framed by a member of the 107 Hoover Crips. Since Kiera was young when she was found guilty, the attorneys asked for help from the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic at Loyola Law School. They filed a petition for clemency, asking for Kiera’s sentence to be reduced.  In 2013, TIC Executive Director Michael Semanchik, Alissa Bjerkhoel, and Justin Brooks walked Kiera’s clemency petition from San Diego to Sacramento where they hand-delivered the petition to Governor Brown’s staff.

Finally, on Christmas Eve in 2018, Governor Jerry Brown decided to reduce Kiera’s sentence. On April 7, 2020, Kiera was set free from prison for a crime she did not commit.

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