For Immediate Release

Contact:
Shari Ireton
University of Washington School of Law
206.685.9002

2008-10-01

Death row exoneree addresses UW law students

Juan Roberto Melendez-Colon spent almost 18 years on Florida's death row before being exonerated and released. He will speak to UW law school students about his experience Thursday, October 2 at 12:30 in Room 133 of William H. Gates Hall. Melendez's talk is sponsored by the student chapter of the Innocence Project.

In 1983 Melendez was charged with murder, found guilty and sentenced to death row. He maintained his innocence, but his conviction and death sentence were upheld on appeal three times. As Melendez neared the end of his appeals, his attorneys discovered a tape that contained the confession to the murder by another man, Vernon James, as well as witnesses who recalled James' confession to the murder before he died. A Florida judge determined that Melendez was entitled to a new trial in light of this evidence. The state of Florida declined to prosecute him a second time and his conviction was overturned.

Melendez was the 99th death row inmate in the United States to be exonerated and released from prison. He is currently a public speaker and human rights activist, a board member of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and lives in Puerto Rico.