An Oceanside man who spent nearly 20 years in prison for murder has been exonerated, and two family members of the victim have been arrested in the case, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin announced at a news conference Monday.
On Friday, the District Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against 60-year-old Horace Roberts for the 1998 murder of Terry Cheek. Authorities reopened the case after an investigation by the California Innocence Project.
Cheek’s body was found along Temescal Canyon Road, near Corona Lake, in April 1998. At the time, Cheek was married and was having an affair with Roberts, her co-worker.
Roberts would be arrested and charged with her murder. In July 1999, a jury convicted Roberts of second-degree murder and he was sentenced to 15 years-to-life in prison.
The California Innocence Project began investigating Robert’s case, and through advances in DNA technology not available during the original trial, found additional evidence earlier this year, which the organization brought to District Attorney Mike Hestrin’s Conviction Review Committee.
Hestrin made the decision to reopen the investigation into Cheek’s murder.
Along with the exoneration of Roberts, the investigation led to the arrests of two suspects: 62-year-old Googie Rene Harris Sr., of Jurupa Valley, and 52-year-old Joaquin Lateee Leal, of Compton.
Harris was Cheek’s husband, and Leal was her nephew by marriage.
The District Attorney’s Office filed murder charges against Leal and Harris on Monday. Both men are scheduled to be arraigned in the case on Tuesday at the Hall of Justice in Riverside.