LAS VEGAS — A check for nearly $2 million and a “Certificate of Innocence” will hardly make up for 20 years in prison, but Frank LaPena at least has some money to live on after a court ruled he was wrongfully convicted — twice.
The state of Nevada has awarded $1,980,900 to 83-year-old LaPena, a former bell captain at the Hacienda resort in Las Vegas.
A court ruled he was wrongfully convicted in the 1974 robbery and killing of a casino magnate’s wife, according to the Nevada Attorney General’s Office.
In 1974, LaPena was arrested for the murder and robbery of Hilda Krause, wife of casino magnate Marvin Krause. LaPena and his former girlfriend were named as the masterminds by the actual murderer, Gerald Weakland.
Weakland then changed his testimony at LaPena’s first trial and testified that LaPena was innocent but changed his testimony again at LaPena’s second trial.
LaPena was nevertheless convicted in 1977 on charges of first-degree murder and robbery with use of a weapon in commission of a crime.
In 1982, the Nevada Supreme Court overturned LaPena’s first conviction, but LaPena was re-tried and re-convicted in 1989.
In 2019, LaPena sought and received a full, unconditional pardon from the State of Nevada Board of Pardons Commissioners based on his actual innocence.
LaPena is the fifth person in Nevada to receive a Certificate of Innocence.