Meet Our Staff
Magdaleno "Leno" Rose-Avila, Executive Director
Magdaleno Rose-Avila, more fondly known throughout the human rights community as Leno, is Executive Director of Witness to Innocence. Leno has a long history of civil and human rights work, which led him many years ago to become involved in the movement to abolish the death penalty. In 1998, Leno joined with Sister Helen Prejean, one of the founders of WTI, to develop and launch the Moratorium Initiative, which became one of the most effective strategies to reach out to politicians and the public on the issue of abolition. While working for Amnesty International in Atlanta, he organized the largest meeting of national leaders in the African American Community on the death penalty, including Coretta Scott King, Reverend Joe Lowery, the National Black Police Association, Congressman John Conyers, and many others. He also worked with Cesar Chavez and other leaders of the historic United Farm Workers Union.
Ray Krone, Director of Membership and Training
Ray Krone is the Director of Membership and Training for Witness to Innocence, and one of our organization’s co-founders. He has responsibility for overseeing membership cohesion among the exonerees, and for developing and delivering trainings to new speakers and media spokespeople at WTI. Ray is the 100th person to be exonerated from death row in the United States. Before his exoneration in 2002, Ray spent more than ten years in Arizona prisons, including nearly three years on death row, for a murder he did not commit. Since then he has become one of the nation’s most recognized public voices for abolition, and has spoken throughout the United States and Europe, appearing before hundreds of groups, state legislatures, and other governmental bodies. He has been featured in People and Parade magazines, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and has appeared on Good Morning America, the BBC, Investigative Discovery Channel and more.
Dr. Sandra Joy, Community Resources Coordinator
Dr. Sandra Joy is the Community Resources Coordinator for Witness to Innocence. Dr. Joy is also a professor in the Sociology Department at Rowan University, located in Glassboro, New Jersey. She has been on the faculty at Rowan since 2002, teaching courses such as Race & Crime and The Sociology of Death, Dying, & Bereavement. Dr. Joy is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a dozen years of experience as a mental health and substance abuse therapist. For more than two decades, whether Dr. Joy was working in the mental health field or within academia, she has maintained her work as a community activist. She has been an abolitionist in the anti-death penalty movement throughout this time and serves on the board of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty. Dr. Joy is the author of Coalition Building in the Anti-Death Penalty Movement: Privileged Morality, Race Realities (2010) and Grief, Loss, & Treatment for Death Row Families: Forgotten No More (2014).
Mariko Franz, Business and Office Manager
Mariko Franz has over ten years of experience working in nonprofits on an administrative and organizational level. Most recently, Mariko worked at the regionally-based Clean Air Council in Philadelphia as their Membership Coordinator. Previously, she served as an Administrative Assistant at the American Friends Service Committee, and as Administrative Manager to the Student Environmental Action Coalition. In addition, she worked on a number of local issues in Philadelphia, including public education, the school-to-prison pipeline, immigrant rights, and gentrification. Mariko received her Bachelor of Arts in Education and History from Temple University. Originally from Pittsburgh, Mariko now considers Philadelphia home, where she lives with her husband and daughter.
Ron Keine, Assistant Director of Membership and Training
Ron Keine works with Ray Krone and Sabrina Butler as an Assistant Director of Membership and Training for Witness to Innocence. Ron was one of four men convicted of the murder and kidnapping of a University of New Mexico student in 1974. He and his co-defendants were sentenced to death before an investigation by The Detroit News uncovered lies by the prosecution’s star witness, perjured identification given under police pressure, and the use of poorly administered lie detector tests. Ron was released in 1976 after the murder weapon was traced to a law enforcement officer who admitted to the killing. Ron’s powerful prose on the death penalty has appeared in both scholarly and literary arts publications, and he was recently honored by the Texas House of Representatives.
Sabrina Butler, Assistant Director of Membership and Training
Sabrina Butler works with Ray Krone and Ron Keine as an Assistant Director of Membership and Training for Witness to Innocence. Sabrina Butler was a Mississippi teenager who was convicted of murder and child abuse in the death of her nine-month-old son, Walter, in 1989. At her trial, prosecutors sought to prove that Sabrina's account of the events leading to her son's death were false, and that she had inflicted the fatal wounds intentionally. Sabrina did not testify at her trial, and was convicted of both murder and child abuse, becoming the only woman on Mississippi's Death Row at the time. In 1995, Sabrina's case went to retrial. At the trial, one of Sabrina's neighbors had come forward with evidence that corroborated her account that the injuries to her son occurred during the course of an unsuccessful attempt to administer CPR. In addition, the medical examiner changed his opinion about Walter's cause of death, which he now believed occurred due to a kidney malady. On December 17, 1995, Sabrina was exonerated after spending more than five years in prison and 33 months on death row. She is the only woman exonerated from death row in the United States. Today, Sabrina still lives in the same town where she was convicted, with her husband Joe Porter and three children.