The future of a man whose first-degree murder conviction and death sentence were reversed by the California Supreme Court remains in the hands of the Kern County district attorney.

The high court cited “false evidence” in reversing the conviction of Vincente Figueroa Benavides. He’s been in prison 26 years on the case but soon may be a free man.

Benavides, now 68, was convicted of raping his girlfriend’s 21-month-old daughter so savagely that the child suffered fatal internal injuries. 

But now, experts say the girl, Consuelo Verdugo, was never assaulted and probably was run over by a car. The incident happened at a Delano apartment complex back in 1991.

Because of the court’s decision, the case was returned to the DA’s office. Earlier this month, District Attorney Lisa Green said that retrying case is unlikely because key evidence has been discredited.

Moreover, all charges will probably be dismissed and Benavides will be released from prison. Green could make the official announcement at any moment over the next few days.

This case was the topic of a KGET special report: Kern’s Questionable Conviction:

17 News will bring you the latest on this case once the DA’s office makes the announcement.