Man Paid For Wrongful Conviction

A man who spent more than 13 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of sex crimes against an 8-year-old girl could receive nearly $900,000 in compensation from the state.

Merardo Garza Jr., 52, was convicted in 2008 of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and rape in Wichita.

He was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison.

His conviction was vacated in 2020 when the girl recanted her story.

Sedgwick County District Court Judge Seth Rundle agreed to the compensation and other concessions to resolve a lawsuit filed by Garza.

The State Finance Committee must still review the agreement.

Under Kansas law, wrongfully convicted people can be compensated $65,000 for each year they spend in jail.

Kansas has been involved in 14 wrongful conviction lawsuits since December 2018.

Agreements have been made in six of those cases, five are being litigated, and courts have denied payment in two.