Hanline Murder Conviction Reversed

November 20, 2014

All Posts, News

A California Superior Court Judge named Donald D. Coleman has overturned the 1978 murder conviction of Michael Ray Hanline after lawyers from the California Innocence Project and the Ventura County District Attorney agreed that documents that showed someone else might have committed the crime had been hidden from Hanline during his trial.

Hanline (above) is now 69. He has been in prison for 36 years and his case is the oldest conviction ever reversed in California  history. He is currently incarcerated at the California State Prison, Solano in Vacaville and he will be released  following a bail hearing next Monday, November 24.

Hanline was convicted in 1980 of murdering a colorful biker named J.T. McGarry who also called himself Michael Mathers. McGarry ran motorcycle swap meets for Lou Kimzey, who was the editor and publisher of Easyriders Magazine and the founder of the biker rights organization ABATE. ABATE was formed to fight mandatory helmet laws for motorcyclists. At the time of its founding, ABATE was an acronym for “A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments.” In the earliest days of Easyriders, virtually everything advertised in the magazine was sold by staff members of the magazine.

The Girlfriend

McGarry and Hanline shared a girlfriend named Mary Bischoff. Bischoff told Hanline that McGarry had stolen between $30,000 and $35,000 from the Easyriders editor and she complained that McGarry should have given half of it to her.

McGarry was last heard from alive on the evening of November 10, 1978 when he had a phone conversation with an attorney named Bruce Robertson. He disappeared sometime before eleven that night. His body was found dumped off Highway 33 near Ventura on November 12. He had been shot in the chest and the neck with .38 caliber revolver.

The prosecution theorized that Hanline killed McGarry because the dead man hadn’t shared the money he stole from Kimzey with Bischoff. By the time of the murder Bischoff was living with Hanline and she became one of the principal witnesses against him. She testified that Hanline had told her a “contract” was out on McGarry, that she saw Hanline with a .38 revolver in his belt as he went out the night McGarry disappeared and that he had vowed to “blow his brains out.” She said Hanline returned that night wet and dirty and shared cocaine with her he said he had gotten from “Magic Mike.”

The Evidence

At Hanline’s trial, a number of witness contradicted Bischoff’s testimony, but the prosecutor dismissed those statements as a fabricated alibi. The prosecutor also hid two reports totaling 22 pages that contradicted Bischoff’s testimony.

A DNA analysis of evidence collected from the crime scene was conducted earlier this year. DNA testing did not exist at the time of Hanline’s trial.  The recent testing found DNA profiles for two male individuals. One profile matched the victim and the other belonged to an unidentified male. There was no DNA evidence that Hanline had been at the crime scene.

In a document filed a week ago, Ventura prosecutors also stated: “During the last several months, the District Attorney’s Office has interviewed several individuals who were involved in the events surrounding the murder of the victim. These interviews suggest that persons other than petitioner also had motives and means to kill the victim. These interviews, together with evidence from the in camera hearings discussed above and the federal habeas evidentiary hearing, also suggest that witnesses were manipulated and threatened and discouraged from cooperating with the prosecution or with the Innocence Project. This evidence casts further doubt on petitioner’s guilt.”

Prosecutors have previously alleged that McGarry was a member of a motorcycle club.

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23 Responses to “Hanline Murder Conviction Reversed”

  1. Dirk Diggler Says:

    Congratulations Mr. Michael Ray Hanline!!

    “The prosecutor also hid two reports totaling 22 pages that contradicted Bischoff’s testimony”

    Is there no recourse for this?

  2. BMW Says:

    What we face here is the kidnapping and false imprisonment for four decades of Michael Hanline. But what we face here is also actually much more than the kidnapping and false imprisonment for four decades of Michael Hanline. We face a conspiracy which included several so-called “law enforcement officers”, a vicious and malevolent conspiracy combined to steal the freedom,youth and prospects of a free young man. And for what purpose? Was it merely to avoid the hard work of investigating a murder? I don’t think so, but on the other hand, many irritating people are now lodged in the nation’s gulags for no reason other than pissing off the hidden-in-plain-sight cabal once called “the establishment “. But why pin the guilt on Hanline?

    In fact, Hanline was persecuted by a conspiracy of corrupt police, a crooked prosecutor AND a drug-dealing defense attorney. The drug-dealing defense attorney, who died while Hanline was falsely imprisoned, represented several of the witnesses who presented perjured testimony used to convict Hanline. However, it was the crooked, drug-dealing defense attorney that the prosecutor and the corrupt police were trying to protect, at the cost of an innocent man’s life and freedom. It was actually the drug-dealing defense attorney who was REALLY at the home of the victim, not Michael Hanline. The prosecutor and the police convinced the judge to seal the investigative documents that contradicted the testimony against Hanline, supposedly to protect the identity of a non-existent informer. The crooked prosecutor and corrupt police conspired with the apparent murderer to frame Michael Hanline.


  3. T Hell Says:

    1978, 1978, 19 fucking 78 a lifetime stolen, beyond words…

  4. Whitepride Says:

    DNA evidence has been around since the late 90s. WTF took so long to get around to Mr. Hanline’s case? Very sad that he had to spend a good part of his life behind the wall over the word of some whore! On an unrelated subject since Obama can pick and choose which laws to enforce (Immigration laws) we should be able to pick and choose which laws to obey! Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wants to put a law into effect that a person receives 5 years for trespassing on landmarks in NY. This comes from the sanctuary state that does not turn illegals over to the feds if they are arrested in the state. So if you walk onto the Brooklyn Bridge illegally you get 5 years but if you are a criminal or terrorist and enter the country illegally they will protect you. Why aren’t the feds protecting our borders instead of making up crimes against bikers? I am totally disgusted with this country and the way it’s turned out. This is not the same country I swore an oath to defend so many years ago!I hope Mr. Hanline can find peace and adjust well to life outside the walls and I hope his remaining years are lived well!

  5. PJ(Paul) Says:

    Congrats on your well deserved freedom, Mr. Hanline.

  6. Trip Says:

    I wonder if the State of California will pay him the $100 a day compensation for being wrongfully convicted? I mean its only right the man has lost his entire life…Im sure the state will come up with a check for a hundred grand, a new suit and a handshake. This is exactly why I hate California, I wish the fucking entire state would break off and fall into the sea….


  7. Rusty Says:

    Gah damn…….glad Mr Hanline is free…but gah damn.

  8. Wrong Way Says:

    The system is a beast and it swallows men. Look at how this man’s life was taken. Imagine how each day, he felt, knowing his innocence and yet living in prison. Day after day, month after month, year after year. It’s a total travesty.

    My friends, avoid the system at all costs. It is near impossible to fight. If you find yourself in a fight with it, by all means get the best lawyer possible. If you do not have the funds…..

    Between law enforcement, judges, juries and corrections there has never been enough checks and balances. Everything takes forever as far as “due process” and we always end up demonized.

    My heart goes out to this man. I imagine no one will ever know the feelings he has having achieved freedom after all this time. His life can now go forward. He can try to appreciate each new day as a free man. But all those years he was locked up can never be given back. And who will hold the system accountable? To me it is criminal to put a man away like that. It’s seems to me that the law enforcement and judge should be brought up on charges. But we the people are so disconnected from the abuse in the system and/or confused about how to confront it. God help us when this evil beginss to look to us or the ones we love with longing, vengeful eyes.

    M L,H+R

    Wrong Way
    BFCMM, East Bay

  9. John Deaux Says:

    Congratulations Mr Hamline
    Hopefully your healthy enough to enjoy your long owed freedom, its been a long time coming.
    FTF. FTP. FTW.

  10. LaRue Says:

    I remember both Mike (as I knew him) and Mary. I’m curious why the hell Mary isn’t pulled back into this. She lied all the way through this to get Hanline convicted. Where is she now?

  11. Jim666 Says:

    Congrats to Mr. Hamline.
    It`s a fucking shame that Brian Brewer couldn’t get a fair trial or at least been released in time to spend his last few days with his young son and family,


  12. Dr. Sardonicus Says:

    I cannot fathom what it would be like to do that kind of time knowing I was framed.

  13. Meh Says:

    Her so eagerly setting him up begs the question if she was working with the real murderer. The lack of conscience that would allow someone to live this long with no remorse is chilling.

    Pussy that evil should come with a warning label.

  14. John Deaux Says:

    All pussy should come with a warning label.

  15. Wrong Way Says:

    @ Jim 666

    I remember being one of many who banded together to try to get Brian Brewer’s release based on his health waning. That situation was sad and infuriating. The callousness of the system was sickening. Continued sympathies to his club and family.

    Wrong Way
    BFCMM, East Bay

  16. BMW Says:

    The Innocence Project has been working on this case for more than TEN years. The evidence was uncovered in 2011. Since 2011,the injustice system has known of the proof of Mike’s Innocence. All those federal persecutors, the federal judges, and the State of California have been aware that this man was robbed of his life and only THREE years later do those overpaid and underperforming sluts finally move their asses to release Mike.

  17. Blind Tom Says:

    Just the tip of the fucking iceberg…

  18. scratchpad Says:

    For the First Time Ever, a Prosecutor Will Go to Jail for Wrongfully Convicting an Innocent Man


    In California there’s probably laws against recourse, however, at the least i hope they dont decide to re-trial and this man can live the rest of his years outside the walls.

  19. popeye Says:

    We should all be held to the same standard. No one is above the law. The judge in the above post should be jailed for tampering with evidence among other things. If a cop shoots an innocent man he should be charged with at least manslaughter. Cops kill innocents and its just another honest mistake and a half hearted apology. Thats the problem theres no accountability.

  20. BMW Says:

    As mentioned above by scratchpad, the Cincinnati Innocence Project issued a statement about a different innocent man convicted and imprisoned. Well worth reading. I found part of the statement very interesting:

    “A recent study found prosecutorial misconduct in nearly one-quarter of all capital cases in Arizona. Only two of those prosecutors have been reprimanded or punished. This led the Arizona Republic to conclude:

    ‘There seldom are consequences for prosecutors, regardless of whether the miscarriage of justice occurred because of ineptness or misconduct. In fact, they are often congratulated. ‘”

    Prosecutors are rewarded. both financially and with advancement, for achieving a conviction in a well-known case. Although there are some prosecutors who have the personal integrity to resist the urge to cheat, many fall into the moral hazard of becoming persecutors rather than prosecutors, choosing to convict an innocent man, making the man a sort of sacrificial victim to that persecutor’s desire for success.


  21. Jim666 Says:

    @ Wrong Way thank you for your support of Brian, too bad things didnt work out as well for him as did for mr. Hamline, I had a brother from Nor cal of the same name as you he passed a few years back but the name brought back great memories of a great man that lived a long live in the biker world not to mention other tragedies he lived through he was a true man among men,

  22. Slide Says:

    Congratulations Beep. By chance I too was up there on the hill on a very strange nite, no smiles, no fun to be had. But it wasnt until a few years later would I meet the NONAME who complained about Mathers pulling guns on people. Just curious, did you get to watch the Outlaw Chronicles series about the collector and the gun? Enjoy the air, the rides, and fishing. Maybe the DNA will find the real killer. Or not.

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