A federal magistrate judge in Los Angeles says a San Fernando Valley man serving a life sentence for the 1983 beating and stabbing death of his mother was wrongfully convicted and should be retried or set free, it was reported Wednesday.
In a 69-page report, U.S. Magistrate Judge Ralph Zarefsky concluded that key evidence prosecutors used to convict Bruce Lisker -- including a bloody shoe print -- was "false evidence," the Los Angeles Times reported.
Zarefsky also found that Lisker's defense lawyer -- now a Superior Court commissioner -- performed so poorly that Lisker, now 43, was deprived of his constitutional right to effective counsel, according to The Times.
Zarefsky's report, released late Monday, mirrors findings of a seven-month Times investigation published in 2005, which undermined key elements of the prosecution's case and exposed the LAPD investigation into the slaying of his 66-year-old mother, Dorka, as sloppy and incomplete.
Despite the legal victory, Lisker's release from state prison remains uncertain. Zarefsky's report has been forwarded to a U.S. District Court judge, who can adopt the document as written, make changes or reject it altogether.
Lisker's private investigator, who has worked on the case more than a decade, told The Times he spoke to his client Monday night and told him the news.
"He was thrilled," Paul Ingels told The Times. "He was in tears."
A spokesman for the state attorney general's office, which is defending Lisker's conviction, told The Times that lawyers were "carefully reviewing" the magistrate's opinion.
Lisker, then 17, was accused of killing his mother at her Sherman Oaks home on March 10, 1983.