On the evening of October 5, 2003, California emergency room nurse Kimberly Long got into an argument with her boyfriend Oswaldo (Ozzy) Conde. The two had been drinking throughout the day, and after things got heated, Long left her and Conde's shared home to go cool down. When she returned to her home later in the evening, she found that her door was unlocked. She entered her home and found Conde slumped over, already deceased.
Conflicting evidence and ineffective counsel landed Long in prison for seven years, prompting the California Innocence Project to take on her case.
Long Passed A Lie Detector Test, But Authorities Were Still Suspicious
Since Long admitted to having an argument with Conde hours before his demise, authorities had no choice but to consider Long a suspect. When Long was brought in for questioning, they administered a polygraph test. Long passed the polygraph test when she claimed innocence. Police apprehended her in the clothes she claims she had been wearing out that night, and there wasn't a drop of blood on them.
Still, authorities were suspicious of Long, especially after the couple's friend, Jeff Dills, told them that Long had hit Conde in the shoulder during their heated argument earlier in the evening.
Long Lied To Police About Her Relations With Dills
After Long and Conde got into an argument at their front door, Long left with Jeff Dills to cool down. Originally, she told police that the two just hung out, but later, she revealed that she and Dills were intimate. The two went back to Dills's residence, where they got into the spa. According to Dills, Long continued to complain about Conde and how he was not carrying his share financially.
According to the case's statement of facts, Long ended the encounter "abruptly" and lied, saying that her ex-husband was supposed to swing by and drop off her kids. Dills said that as she was preparing to leave, Long mentioned that she could "kick [Ozzy's] a**."
Long's Public Defense Believed Her Ex-Husband Could Also Be A Suspect
Eric Keen, who acted as Long's public defender in the immediate aftermath of the incident, believes that Long's ex-husband, Joe Bugarski, could be a suspect. During the first trial, Keen pointed out that a stereo went missing from Long and Conde's shared home while Conde was being targeted, suggesting someone else was present.
According to ABC News, Long started dating Conde when she and Bugarski were still married. As their marriage dissolved, Long kicked Bugarski out of their shared home, and Conde moved in. Keen, along with other defenders of Long's innocence, believed that this could serve as motive for Bugarski.
Long's First Trial Ended With A Hung Jury, But The Jury At Her Second Trial Found Her Guilty
Kimberly Long's first trial started at the beginning of February 2005, and as the trial came to a close, jurors were split. The prosecution painted Long as a party girl with a temper and questioned why she didn't try to administer first aid when she first found Conde, citing her profession as an emergency room nurse. Public defender Eric Keen reiterated that Long's ex-husband had a history of verbal threats and that he used to live in Long's home, making him a potential suspect.
The jury was torn. After three days of deliberation, they were deadlocked. Nine jurors were in favor of acquittal, while three wanted to convict Long. The court was forced to declare a mistrial. Judge Patrick F. Magers put Long on a $100,000 bond and ordered her not to have any contact with any attorneys or witnesses who were part of the case. He even said that he would have found her not guilty, had this not been a juried case:
To make a perfectly clear record in this matter, if this was a court trial, if the Court would have heard the evidence in this case, I would have found the defendant not guilty. I would have found that the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. That is my trial court decision in this case. Obviously, it was not a court trial. It was a jury trial.