Undercurrent

LaPena granted compensation for false conviction in 1974 murder

By: - August 10, 2021 4:20 pm
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Nevada lawmakers passed a measure in 2019 allowing for the compensation of wrongfully incarcerated people who can prove they did not commit the crime for which they were convicted. (Getty Images)

A man who spent 20 years in prison for a murder he did not commit will receive just under $2 million from the state, according to Attorney General Aaron Ford. 

Frank LaPena was arrested in 1974 for the murder of Hilda Krause, wife of Caesars Palace executive Marvin Krause.

He was convicted in 1977 after he and his former girlfriend were named as the masterminds by Gerald Weakland, who turned out to be the real murderer.  

The Nevada Supreme Court overturned his conviction in1982, but he was re-tried and convicted again in 1989. 

A Clark County judge vacated LaPena’s conviction in 1997 but the Nevada Supreme Court overturned that decision the following year. 

LaPena’s sentence was commuted by the Pardons Board in 2003, and he was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2017. 

“The recognition of his innocence was long overdue, having fought his case and maintined his innocence since 1974,” said attorney Kristina Wildeveld, who represented LaPena before the Pardons Board in 2019 when he received a certificate of actual innocence. “It should never take that long to do the right thing but MrLaPena is grateful for his new freedom.”

The Board of Examiners approved his monetary award of $1,980,900 on Tuesday.  

“Today, Mr. LaPena’s innocence was fully acknowledged by the State, and he is free to enter into a new chapter in his life,” Ford said. “No amount of money can ever replace our freedom, but with this decision, Mr. LaPena will receive some redress for the years he has lost.”

LaPena is the fifth individual awarded compensation via the Attorney General’s Post-Conviction Unit, according to the news release.  

Nevada lawmakers passed a measure in 2019 allowing for the compensation of wrongfully incarcerated people who can prove they did not commit the crime for which they were convicted.

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.

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