Wrongly Convicted Database Record

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Gloria Killian

Years Imprisoned:





Life Imprisonment without possibility of parole

Year Convicted:


Year Cleared:


Location of Trial:



Judicially Exonerated Released

Summary of Case:

"Gloria Killian was wrongly convicted in 1986 of being the mastermind of the Sacramento, California robbery and murder of Ed Davies and shooting of his wife Grace on December 9, 1981. She was arrested in June 1983 and charged with first-degree felony murder, attempted murder, burglary, robbery, grand theft, and conspiracy. Her indictment and subsequent conviction were based on the testimony of Gary Masse, one of Davies' admitted murderers who exchanged his testimony for the help of prosecutors in reducing his sentence of life without parole. Joyce Ride, the mother of astronaut Sally Ride, took an interest in Killian's case, and financed an investigation of the murder and she hired an appellate lawyer for Killian to file first a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which was denied, and then a federal habeas petition, which was also denied. Killian appealed, and on March 13, 2002 Killian's conviction was overturned by the 9th Cir. Ct. of Appeals based on four grounds. First, the prosecution's knowingly used Masse's perjured testimony. Second, the failure of the prosecution to disclose exculpatory evidence, that included a letter by Masse to the prosecution that stated, "I gave you De Santis and Kilian ... I even lied my ass off on the stand for you people." Third, the prosecution commented eight separate times during closing arguments that Killian must have something to hide because she invoked her 5th Amendment right to remain silent after she was arrested. Fourth, even if the individual errors were not sufficient to warrant reversing Killian's conviction, the cumulative weight of the errors required that her conviction must be overturned. The Court described the prosecution's key witness, Gary Masse, as a "thoroughly discredited" perjurer. With no evidence Killian committed the crime the Sacramento County DA dropped the charges and she was released on August 8, 2002, 19 years and 2 months after her arrest in June 1983."

Conviction Caused By:

Perjurious testimony of a convict witness who exchanged his testimony for the hope of a lighter sentence.

Innocence Proved By:

Appeals court recognized the unreliableness of the convict witness' testimony.

Defendant Aided By:

Joyce Ride, the mother of Sally Ride, the first female astronaut met Killian during a visit to the prison she was at. Ms. Ride became convinced of Killian's innocence and personally financed an investigation of the murder and hired a lawyer to handle her appeal.

Compensation Awarded:

Was Perpetrator Found?

Age When Imprisoned:


Age When Released:


Information Source 1:

""Conviction for Murder Reversed: Appeal: Justices find in favor of ex-law student who has served 16 years of her sentence for plotting robbery, slaying," Henry Weinstein (staff writer), Los Angeles Times, March 14, 2002."

Information Location 1:


Information Source 2:

Killian v. Poole, 282 F.3d 1204 (9th Cir.2002)

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Information Source 3:

Not Guilty After All, San Francisco Magazine, November 2004

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Innocents Database Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org