A Delano man who spent more than two decades on death row was released from custody Thursday after all charges against him were dismissed.
Vicente Figueroa Benavides, 68, became a free man at 3:50 p.m., according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He will receive re-entry services that can include housing assistance, job training and help obtaining a valid identification card.
The charges against Benavides were dismissed Thursday afternoon by Superior Court Judge Brian McNamara, according to the District Attorney's office. The move comes after prosecutors said they would not retry Benavides after the California Supreme Court overturned his conviction last month.
Benavides was convicted in 1993 of crimes including rape and murder in the death of 21-month-old Consuelo Verdugo.
Doctors who testified at trial that Consuelo's injuries could have been caused by rape now say that she could not have been sexually assaulted. Some doctors have said they weren't provided with all the medical evidence before testifying.
"The evidence now shown to be false was extensive, pervasive, and impactful," the California Supreme Court wrote in its ruling last month.
It's unclear exactly how Consuelo suffered the fatal injuries.
District Attorney Lisa Green announced earlier this week her office would not retry Benavides.
"The change in opinion of the majority of medical personnel involved in the case would greatly undermine their testimony in any retrial regarding the physical abuse the victim suffered," she said in a news release.