"This is my only pair of shoes," Charles Andre Powell said as he lifted his foot up to show his worn sandal, straps separating from the sole.
The rest of his shoes -- and most of his worldly possessions -- are in an evidence locker in a sheriff's station. The 40-year-old former Perris resident was arrested and jailed for 11 months for a crime in Temecula he did not commit.
He was on March 2 on four charges related to the mugging and robbery of a Temecula man.
A jury at in French Valley acquitted him of kidnapping, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and burglary after he sat in jail for 10 months.
He posted bail when it was reduced from $1 million to $5,000 about a month later. Now, he's living at a friend's house in suburban Corona waiting to be sentenced for the only charge of which he was convicted -- drug possession.
He's spending this time trying to figure out how to get his life back together. "I have no idea what to do," he said as he sat on his friend's white concrete porch overlooking the nicely groomed lawn in a quiet, middle-class housing tract.
When he's sentenced on March 26, he might get some of his things back -- his cell phone, his computer, his driver's license -- but until then, he can do little to put his life back together, he said.
"I have no ID. I can't even get into my bank account without my ID or passport," he said. "I'm trying to get back on my feet, but I don't have any resources. They took my life from me for 11 months."
In the dark
on suspicion of tying up, beating and robbing his ex-wife's boyfriend in February, 2011 in a garage in the 40000 block of Paseo Serenoas.
Powell knew nothing about the crime until he was unexpectedly pulled over.
A friend, his girlfriend and Powell were driving together in April when suddenly red and blue lights lit up the car's cab.
"I just said, 'Pull over and get your ticket,'" he recalled telling his friend, who was behind the wheel.
Numerous patrol cars surrounded them, pulled them from the car, cuffed Powell and took him to jail.
Light shed on charges
Powell first learned what the charges were when he signed a plea form during his arraignment, he said. He pleaded not guilty.
The robbers left behind plenty of physical evidence, but none of it pointed to Powell, according to Jeff Zimel, Powell's attorney.
To read the original report of the crime,
The only evidence the prosecution presented was the testimony of a witness, which the jury, Zimel said.
After a friend posted a bail bond, Powell was released in French Valley at 3 a.m. with nothing but the clothing he was wearing and his pair of sandals, he recalled.
Powell's lack of an alibi caused him trouble. On the morning of the mugging, Powell was asleep at his friend's home in Perris.
He was planning to move to Los Angeles in a few weeks, and was sleeping on his friend's couch in the meantime.
The friend was in the house with Powell that morning, but the man refused to testify in court because investigator's found drugs in his home after the arrest.
"He didn't want to incriminate himself," Powell said.
So, since Powell had no alibi, he was jailed, even though investigators had no physical evidence.
"The system is really, really messed up," he said. "Why should I have to pay because you have the wrong person. I have nothing now."
Powell's ex-wife suspected he may have mugged her boyfriend, which kicked off the police's investigation.
He and his former spouse had a rocky relationship since their divorce about a decade ago, he said.
Acting on the ex-wife's tip, police showed photos of Powell to the only witness, a woman who saw two men running away from the crime scene, Zimel said.
The witness at first told police she would be unable to recognize the suspect. Later, after she saw numerous pictures of Powell, she said she was pretty sure it was him. By the time of the trial, she said she was 100 percent sure, Zimel said.
"Once they had me, they didn't look for anybody else," Powell said. "I was irritated about the whole situation."
Making the best of it
Powell decided to use his time in jail productively. "Getting through that was challenging… but I try to make the best I can of any situation," he said.
So, he read a lot of books he ordinarily would not have, and learned a lot that way, he said. "It was a useful experience," he said.