- Falsely Implicated 07/1/97
- Arrested 8/14/97
- Convicted 12/4/98
- Exonerated [TBA]
John Klene, pictured left with his nephew in 1997, had just turned 19 years old when he was arrested for, and ultimately convicted of a murder he did not commit. The case involved the shooting death of a gang member, Antonio Alarcon. John was nowhere near the shooting; he was home hosting a party with friends and family who came by to watch the Tyson-Holyfield boxing match. He had several alibi witnesses who confirmed his innocence, including his mother. Both John and his mother have recently passed a polygraph verifying John's innocence.
John was convicted based on an eyewitness who refused to identify John at trial, and on the word Santo "Payaso" Alvarez--the same man got away with being an accessory to the Rick Daly murder and who allowed Susan Mellen to take his place in prison for seventeen years.
The eyewitness has repeatedly and consistently explained that he did not see the face of the men in the car. He explained that the only reason he made a pretrial identification was because the cops pressured him to do so. This witness passed a polygraph confirming his account.
The police were correct in their suspicion that this crime was committed by a group of Lawndale gang members in retaliation for other shootings in their neighborhood. Rather than objectively investigate leads to determine which Lawndale gang members were involved, the detectives went with the two suspects handed to them by Payaso. The police never investigated the plausibility of Payaso's statements.