A California panel ruled yesterday that Ken Marsh is entitled to $756,900 for spending 21 years in prison for a killing he didn’t commit, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Convicted in 1983 of beating a 2-year-old to death, he was freed in 2004 when doctors concluded the toddler hadn’t been murdered. The payment — $100 for each of the 7,569 days he spent behind bars — would be the most awarded to a wrongfully convicted person in California history.
Marsh, now 50, went to prison despite a detective’s belief that he was innocent. He owes his freedom largely to the mother of the dead child, who worked tirelessly on his behalf during his incarceration and married him soon after his release. “My plans now are to get the hell out of California,” he said as his wife, Brenda Buell Warter, stood at his side. “There are too many bad memories here.” Ever since 2-year-old Phillip Buell died, both Marsh and Buell Warter have contended that the boy fell off the back of a couch and hit his head on a fireplace hearth at the home they shared. Five doctors said they believed Phillip, Buell Warter’s son from a previous marriage, had been the victim of abuse. Armed with a declaration from a San Diego police detective who worked the case and at least six doctors who concluded that it was impossible to determine that the death was a result of abuse, Buell Warter persuaded San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis to re-examine the case.