The latest Tuesday's Focus examines the story of Juan Melendez:
Juan Roberto Melendez Colon became the 24th person exonerated and released from Florida's death row when he was freed on January 3, 2002 after spending almost 18 years facing execution for a crime he had nothing to do with. Melendez was convicted in 1984 at the age of 33 with no physical evidence linking him to the crime and testimony from questionable witnesses.
In fact, prosecutors hid evidence and lied to the court in order to protect the real killer, a police informant. Melendez's conviction fell apart when the police informant's confession came to light in 1999 - a confession that prosecutors knew about before they took Melendez to trial. Of course, the state of Florida refuses to apologize or admit wrongdoing, and gave Melendez the same thing it gives every prisoner when they leave prison - $100. (Hardy Pickard, the lead prosecutor in Melendez' case, is still working as a State's Attorney in Polk County, Florida.)
Known to his friends as "Johnny," Melendez was born in Brooklyn but grew up in Puerto Rico, where he currently lives.
Juan has joined the Board of Directors for the Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. He continually travel this country and internationally giving presentations about his experiences. He has formed the Juan Melendez Voices United for Justice Project.
To arrange for Juan to speak at your venue, please contact Ms Judi Caruso at 505-362-1784 or firstname.lastname@example.org, director, Juan Melendez Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation
(Reprinted with permission from "Not In Our Name: Murder Victims Families Speak Out Against the Death Penalty," a publication of Murder Victims Families For Reconciliation,
Barbara Hood & Rachel King, Editors.)
Links to Juan’s Journey:
Judge Cites Prosecutor Trickery, Orders Retrial
Florida Death Row Inmate to be Released, 99th Freed Nationwide
Juan Melendez Freed from Death Row
Another Death Row Mistake: Washington Post Editorial January 5, 2002
A dead man walking toward freedom?----The uncertain future of Florida death row inmate Juan Melendez.
Juan Melendez and Bud Welch: Choosing Forgiveness – from Opposite Places
Journey of Hope in Monterey
Faith in Action: Working to Abolish the Death Penalty Amnesty International
Human Rights Working Group
Comunita di Sant Egidio: No More Death Penalty, International Campaign