Change in California murder law sets prisoner free

A change in California's murder law in January 2019 enabled prisoners who were not directly responsible for a murder to have a shot at getting out.

Michael Tirpak was one of the first people to benefit from it today when he walked out of prison as a free man.

Tirpak was convicted of first-degree murder for his alleged role as a 'getaway' driver in an attempted robbery that ended with one person dead.

He has always claimed he did not know the men he was with would be involved in a crime and certainly not that it would end in murder.

"Hanging out with two guys I only seen two times in my life and I spent 25 years in prison," said Tirpak.

A quarter of a century spent in prison convicted under California's felony murder rule -- which allowed people to be arrested even if they weren't directly responsible for the crime.

One person who always believed in his innocence was Claudia, his wife, who met and married him while he was serving his sentence - and saw him released Friday.

"I can't believe this is really happening," said Claudia.

Happening because the law that put him there was overturned in January. Loyola's Law School's project for the innocent -- helped repeal his felony murder rule.

"Ever since then they've been fighting for me," said Tirpak.

Another Loyola group also helped secure the release of Reggie DeAndrew Mallard Friday. Mallard also claims his innocence in a different murder case 16 years ago.

"Just believed the truth would come out, things would work to my favor," said Mallard.

"He came out a better and mature man. But he shouldn't have spent 18 years for something he didn't have to do," said Chris Hawthorne.

Now that the men are out, they are focused on moving forward, while also, giving back.

"I want to dedicate my time to the youth so they don't even end up in this path," said Tirpak.

Experts say they expect many many other prisoners to also benefit from that change.