Two Kern County men who have spent the majority of their adult lives in prison are coming home for the holidays. A judge resentenced them Wednesday to time served. It's a result of the passage of Proposition 36 that amended California's Three Strikes Law.
Randy Johnson and Pedro Marin are the first in Kern County to be resentenced. They went to prison more than a decade ago not knowing if they'd ever be released.
But, thanks to voters in November and a judge's ruling Wednesday morning they will be free soon.
For 17 years, Helen Ante shed tears of sadness. But, now they're tears of joy because her brother, Pedro Marin Jr., will soon be released from prison.
"All we can say is thank you for listening and having a heart and making our holiday be the most happiest we can ever think of having," said Ante.
Marin was convicted in 1995 of stealing about $60. Two prior robbery convictions made this his third strike and he received a life sentence.
But, the passage of Proposition 36 in November revised the law, so a life sentence can only be imposed if a third strike is a serious or violent felony. Since that doesn't apply to Marin, he's coming home.
"It was hard to believe, but with all the prayers, and we always had faith and it paid off," said Helen Rolon, Marin's mother.
Tears were also shed by Randy Johnson's family.
"Everybody is ecstatic. Thirteen grandchildren are waiting to meet their papa," said Susan Johnson, Randy's wife.
Johnson received a life sentence 14 years ago for possessing a small amount of heroin. Like Marin, he also had two prior robbery convictions.
"There's a lot of people out there with drug problems and alcohol problems and my dad got sentenced to life in prison," said Patsy Carter, Randy's daughter.
Johnson was resentenced to time served so he will be coming home soon.
"He's already got presents under the tree," said Johnson.
He also has one request.
"We're going to go to dinner first thing. He is going to have steak and lobster," said Johnson.
Coming home in time for Christmas. It's a holiday Johnson never thought he would spend outside a prison cell.
"No words to even describe the feeling. I'm just so happy and excited for the future," said Carter.
Johnson and Marin waived their right to appear in court Wednesday so their families are going to tell them the good news by phone.