Paige Kaneb: Innocence Project Director's Intimate Messages with Convicted Murdered Leaked after He Demanded $2M to Keep Their Prison Romance Secret

Funches has released these messages to the SF Standard after turning against her and reportedly trying to blackmail her for $2 million.

A California lawyer known for her work in exonerating convicted murderers has been accused of exchanging explicit messages with one inmate to secure the release of another. Paige Kaneb, of the Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP), gained international acclaim for overturning Maurice Caldwell's conviction, 20 years after he was jailed for the 1990 murder of Judy Acosta following a botched drug deal.

She started corresponding with Marritte Funches, who confessed to Acosta's murder while serving time for a different homicide. However, the equation changed and now Kaneb has landed in trouble after getting exposed. Now 53, Funches alleges that Kaneb had sent him sexually explicit messages to secure his cooperation.

Exposing His Biggest Confidante

Paige Kaneb
Paige Kaneb X

Funches has released these messages to the SF Standard after turning against her and reportedly trying to blackmail her for $2 million.

"You make my heart jump," Kaneb told him in one text. "You give me butterflies. And somehow you always have."

Marritte Funches
Marritte Funches X

When Caldwell's conviction was overturned in 2021, he received an $8 million settlement from San Francisco, one of the city's largest, due to evidence fabrication.

The City Attorney investigated Kaneb's relationship with Funches in 2016 while defending against Caldwell's lawsuit, during which she admitted Funches had expressed a sexual interest in her.

Funches told the SF Standard that he assisted Kaneb in locating new witnesses for Caldwell's 2010 retrial but ended their relationship when she broke a promise not to disclose their names publicly.

However, Funches reconnected with Kaneb in March last year, and they allegedly exchanged nearly 9,000 messages over a year.

In one message, Kaneb reminisced about her first meeting with Funches at his Nevada jail, where she was accompanied by NCIP founder Linda Starr. "I still remember in that first visit you were looking at Linda the whole time and I took my hair out," she texted.

"I wanted you to look at me — I've never admitted that before.

"I remember when she left for a few minutes. It was like my chest would explode. And we began talking.... ❤."

In another conversation, she apologized for their disagreement in 2010. "I'm sorry things fell apart and that it had such a negative effect on you. I never wanted that," she wrote in July last year.

"I love you. I always have. Never stopped. Always will," he told her in one text.

"I love you too," she wrote in response. "Always have, always will."

Playing Dirty Games

She also sent him a series of revealing selfies, including two of her wearing a sarong in front of a mirror. "Nothing underneath in those last two," she teased.

Maurice Caldwell
Paige Kaneb with Maurice Caldwell X

"My imagination is going crazy right now," he texted back.

However, their relationship began to sour toward the end of last year when Funches started asking for money and requested her assistance in securing his release from prison.

A spokesman for NCIP informed the SF Chronicle that Funches began blackmailing her, demanding "2 million dollars. After taxes. In a trust that belongs to 'me'."

"I recorded every phone call, kept every text. And copies of every video. You can try to clean it up. But you'll never practice law again. Your career is done," he wrote in an email.

Funches followed through on his threat and released what he claimed was their correspondence to the SF Standard. "She pretended to take a personal interest in me. We began a romantic relationship," he told the paper.

"It was the art of seduction at its finest. All to get me to finally help Mr. Caldwell."

Paige Kaneb
Paige Kaneb Facebook

A spokesperson for Kaneb said that she only began responding to Funches' sexual messages in August 2023, well after Caldwell's release had been achieved.

The Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP), located at Santa Clara University, has launched an investigation into Kaneb, who now serves as its legal director.

Since Caldwell's exoneration, NCIP has assisted in overturning 25 additional murder convictions and asserts the integrity of Caldwell's exoneration.