Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford is pleased to announce that DeMarlo Berry was granted a Certificate of Innocence and awarded $2.25 million in statutory damages for the more than 22-year prison term served following his wrongful incarceration.
Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Cristina D. Silva entered stipulated orders on July 8, 2020, which AG Ford agreed to grant. The orders have been scheduled for final approval at the upcoming Board of Examiners meeting on August 11, 2020.
In 1995, Berry was convicted by the State of Nevada in Clark County for first-degree murder, robbery and burglary in connection with the alleged robbery and burglary of a Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Las Vegas. He was sentenced to life in prison. A Las Vegas man named Steven Jackson later confessed to committing the crimes. The Conviction Integrity Unit of the Clark County District Attorney’s Office investigated and confirmed Jackson’s confession. The State then vacated and dismissed the charges against Berry, releasing him from prison in 2017.
“I was so inspired by DeMarlo Berry during the 2019 Legislative Session when he used his personal experience to advocate for change,” said AG Ford. “His story helped codify Assembly Bill 267 into law, creating a lasting difference in the lives of unjustly incarcerated individuals in Nevada. As your attorney general, the pursuit of justice is paramount to the mission of my office, and I’m encouraged that after so many years, Mr. Berry has been declared an innocent man and will receive compensation for the years of freedom he lost. I couldn’t be prouder of the attorneys in my office who worked on this case. As I told them, ‘Our job is justice, and you have done a great job of delivering it.’”
In 2019, the Nevada Legislature adopted Assembly Bill 267 – codified in NRS 41.900 et seq.– to compensate persons who have been wrongfully incarcerated if they can prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that they did not commit the crime for which they were convicted, were not an accomplice, and did not otherwise cause their own conviction. Additional costs, including reasonable attorney fees, educational expenses, counseling services and certain other reimbursements are also permitted.
During the 2019 Legislative Session, Berry testified in favor of Assembly Bill 267 and personally discussed the bill with AG Ford during the Session. Berry is the first person in Nevada to receive the Certificate of Innocence under this new statute.
This matter was handled by attorneys within the Attorney General’s Post-Conviction Unit including Chief Deputy Attorney General Heather Procter, Deputy Attorney General Jaimie Stilz and Deputy Attorney General Sheryl Serreze.