Washington Court Awards Seattle Man Nearly $500,000 after Wrongful Conviction

A King County judge has awarded Brandon Olebar $496,712 after he was wrongfully convicted and subsequently imprisoned for more than 10 years, as reported by The Seattle Times.

In 2004, a King County jury convicted Olebar of robbery and burglary. The robbery victim, a boyfriend of Olebar’s sister, told Seattle police that he was beaten by as many as eight people during the robbery and that each had a facial tattoo of a feather. Olebar had no facial tattoos, but the victim still picked him from a photomontage as one of the attackers. Also, Olebar had an alibi. He was nonetheless convicted of the robbery. The court sentenced him to 16 1/2 years.

When Innocence Project Northwest’s Legislative Advocacy Clinic took on Olebar’s case, two law student volunteers tracked down the robbers for interviews. Three of them signed sworn statements denying that Olebar was involved in the crime. IPNW presented this evidence to the King County Prosecutor’s Office, which then conducted more interviews of these witnesses. In December, the prosecutor’s office filed a motion with the King County Superior Court to vacate the charges. The court did so.

Olebar then filed a claim for compensation against the State of Washington. In 2013, the Washington State legislature had passed a compensation law for the wrongfully convicted that authorizes an award of $50,000 for each year a person is wrongfully imprisoned. After the King County Superior Court ordered an award of nearly $500,000, Olebar said he plans to use the money to get an apartment with his wife and newborn daughter and to go back to school.