Friday, 10 October 2008

Juan Roberto Melendez talk at SU

October 2, 2008 @ 6:38 pm · Filed under Death Penalty, Events

Juan Melendez, the 99th death row inmate to be released and exonerated, spoke last night at the Seattle University School of Law to a spellbound audience.

Mr. Melendez was convicted based on a police informant’s testimony, in spite of no physical evidence against him. Nearly two decades later, he was exonerated after a taped confession was found in his trial defense lawyer’s office, with corroborating documents, and proof that that prosecutor had access to evidence about the real killer before Mr. Melendez’s trial.

He recounted 18 years in Florida State Prison, where he watched many of his friends, fellow death row inmates, commit suicide, be executed, or die due to lack of medical attention. He shared a message of the humanity, recounting how many of his fellow inmates helped him turn his life around by teaching him to read, write, and speak English. He also spoke of the importance of faith and family in surviving his ordeal.

Mr. Melendez closed his speech by calling for the crowd to become active in the movement to abolish the death penalty. Without the attention and action of all of us, he said, this change will never occur.

Also speaking at the event was Jeff Ellis, president of the Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. who stated that Mr. Melendez’s case was one of many that illustrate that our country’s “experiment” with the death penalty has grave consequences.

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