Man wrongfully convicted of murder files legal claim 

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By Emilie St. John

Contributing Writer

INGLEWOOD — The city has rejected a claim filed on behalf of a man wrongfully convicted of an Inglewood murder in 1984.

The council voted to reject the claim June 13.

Maurice Hastings was convicted for the abduction, sexual assault and slaying of 30-year-old Roberta Wydermyer, and the attempted murder of Wydermyer’s husband, Billy Ray, and his friend George Pinson. He served 38 years in prison and was released in October 2022 after being declared factually innocent after DNA testing ruled him out as a suspect and implicated Kenneth Packnett.

Wydermyer had made a late-night trip to a market in Inglewood, but she never returned home.

After she failed to come home, her husband and Pinson went out looking for her, and they spotted her stolen vehicle being driven by the suspect. The assailant sped away, but the duo pursued him, authorities said. The suspect eventually fired shots toward the pursuing pair, with Billy Ray Wydermyer suffering a shrapnel wound.

At the time, Inglewood police said her assailant stole her cash and jewelry, assaulted her, and then shot her in the head. Her body was then placed in the trunk of her car, which the assailant took.

Hastings was arrested months later. His initial trial ended with a hung jury, but he was convicted at his retrial. He had faced a potential death sentence, but jurors instead recommended that he be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Hastings’ conviction was vacated last October.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon received a claim of innocence in 2021 from the Los Angeles Innocence Project at Cal State Los Angeles who worked on Hastings’ behalf.

“Thanks to the DNA testing completed, Mr. Hastings’ DNA profile was excluded and someone else was determined to have been the assailant in this case,” the district attorney said. “In this particular case, the assailant went on to continue to harm other victims before he was arrested and prosecuted.”

Hastings was declared factually innocent by Judge William C. Ryan on March 1.

According to the City Council agenda, Hastings claim is a result of the city’s “contribution to wrongful prosecution and prolonged detention on Oct. 2, 1984.”

Hastings’ claim is a precursor to a lawsuit, which could potentially be millions of dollars.

The city is self-insured which would cover a minimal portion with the remainder coming from the city’s general fund reserves should a lawsuit be successful.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at

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