Wrongly convicted Seattle man released after 10 years
SEATTLE -- A Seattle man wrongly convicted of robbery and burglary is finally free for the holidays after his wife fought for a decade to get him released.
A King County jury convicted Brandon Olebar, now 30-years old, back in 2003 and sentenced him to 16 and 1/2 years in prison.
Prosecutors accused him and a group of people of breaking into the house of Olebar's sister's ex-boyfriend. Detectives said the group pistol-whipped him and beat him. Days later, the victim identified his attackers as Native Americans with feather tattoos on their faces. He even identified Olebar in a photo lineup.
However, even though Brandon has no tattoos on his face and he provided an alibi, he spent 10 years behind bars before the Innocence Project Northwest stepped in to help.
IPNW attorney Fernanda Torres read Olebar's case and tracked down three assailants from that night who provided sworn statements admitting they attacked the victim while Olebar wasn't there.
After working closely with Torres and the IPNW, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg decided to drop all charges against Olebar. In a statement Satterberg said, "in this matter, the new statements from the participants in the robbery cast enough doubts about Mr. Olebar's involvement in the crime that we decided the case should be dismissed in the interests of justice."
Last Friday, Olebar and his wife, Mely, reunited on prison steps.
"That's the biggest blessing ever," said Mely. "I ran up to him and just jumped on him and gave him a big huge hug."
For Brandon, he's still adjusting to life as a free man again. He says it isn't easy, but he has a large support group ready to help. He's happy to be home in time for the holidays.
"Man, it's difficult, you're watching your life go by," Olebar said. "I think that's the best Christmas present I can actually have is to wake up next to someone I love."
A new state law allows anyone wrongly convicted to receive $50,000 for each year of imprisonment.